Home > Contents unknown: how alcohol labelling still fails consumers.

Alcohol Health Alliance UK. (2022) Contents unknown: how alcohol labelling still fails consumers. London: Alcohol Health Alliance UK.

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This report is a follow-on to the Alcohol Health Alliance’s 2020 report Drinking in the dark: How alcohol labelling fails consumers.1 It looks at whether essential information, such as the low-risk drinking guidelines, ingredients, calories and other health information, is provided on alcohol labels.


Alcohol is linked to over 200 health conditions and diseases, including seven types of cancer and heart disease.2 It has become the biggest risk factor for death, ill health and disability among 15-to-49-year-olds in the UK.3 Alcohol also contributes significantly to calorie intake: of adults who drink, nearly 10% of their daily calorie intake comes from alcohol.4


Yet, people are unaware of the harm alcohol can cause. Just a quarter of Brits know that alcohol is a causal factor in breast cancer and only a fifth can correctly identify the Chief Medical Officers’ (CMOs’) low-risk drinking guidelines. Moreover, only one in five people know how many calories are in a pint of beer.5


Unlike other food and drink products, alcohol labels are not required to display this information. They only need to show the volume of the container, the drink’s strength (alcohol by volume, ABV) and whether any of the 14 most common allergens are present. All other information is included voluntarily. This means that there is currently more product information on a bottle of orange juice than on a bottle of beer.


People have a right to know this information, as it enables them to make informed choices about their health, through deciding what and how much they drink. Providing more information on alcohol labels is an easy and effective way to increase awareness about the risks associated with alcohol.6 There is wide public support for improved alcohol labelling, with more than half of the British population wanting units, sugar and calorie information on alcohol labels.7

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