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Drinks may face mandatory health warnings

Published:  15 February, 2010

The drinks industry is under more pressure to place health warnings on its products after the Department of Health reported that only 15% of products carry enough information for consumers.

The government has expressed disappointment at the industry's inability to follow its voluntary code, and has warned that a mandatory scheme may be introduced.

Public health minister Gillian Merron said: "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."

Diageo has responded by pledging that all of its UK products will comply with the five-point voluntary scheme by 2012.

Labels will show the number of units the drink contains; daily safe drinking limits; a warning to pregnant women; a message about responsible drinking; and a link to the Drinkaware website.

Simon Litherland, managing director of Diageo GB said: "We welcome the Government's consultation on product labelling, which is one of many important ways of helping consumers make informed choices about what they drink.  

"We have already begun the process of re-labelling our drinks brands in the UK, starting with two of our biggest brands, Smirnoff and Captain Morgan.

"We strongly believe that the only way to avoid consumer confusion is to make sure that the entire industry is also adopting all five labelling elements on their products. That is why we have consistently called for an industry-led, co-regulatory labelling scheme on all alcohol products marketed and sold in the UK."