Slow-moving drinks industry frustrates ministers

Ministers want to cut down Britain's binge-drinking
Ministers want to cut down Britain's binge-drinking

By staff

The government has admitted its disappointment with alcoholic drinks manufacturers after revealing only 15 per cent of bottles are properly labelled.

A voluntary agreement on labelling was reached in 2007 which was supposed to see key information, including the number of units in each drink, appear on each bottle.

With 85% of bottles falling short of this standard ministers are now warning they may have to consider legislating to introduce a compulsory system of labelling.

"Whilst there should be no need to bring in legislation when the industry can clearly sort it out themselves, we will not hesitate to act decisively if industry does not deliver," public health minister Gillian Merron warned.

"I expect to see much more leadership from more of the major producers. We know that too many are drinking at harmful levels and producers should play their part in helping to stem this tide by ensuring we all have access to clear and consistent health information on labels."

A consultation has been launched today considering the best steps forward. It is offering drinks firms the opportunity to propose a strengthening and renewal of the self-regulatory agreement instead of backing a mandatory requirement on labelling.

"We have now received assurances to comply from most of the major manufacturers and retailers," health secretary Andy Burnham said.

"I invite industry as a whole to deliver on these assurances, and look forward to finding a way to make this happen during the consultation."

The government singled out Bulmers, Fosters, Kronenbourg and the major supermarkets as having made significant progress.

But overall, Ms Merron said, progress had been "disappointing".


Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.