Next month, the EU’s alcohol industry will come up with a much-awaited self-regulatory proposal about labelling of alcoholic beverages.
Under the current regime, producers of alcoholic drinks are not obliged to indicate the list of ingredients and the nutrition declaration, which is not the case for foods.
The industry and public health NGOs are now bickering over two different options – online or on-the-label information?
Which one better informs EU consumers, who are increasingly conscious about what they eat and drink?
One could argue that, in our constantly digitising world, consumers also need to take a step forward in this field, follow the trends and adjust to new technologies.
It’s also true that many, if not most, consumers have a smart phone they can use to scan a product’s code and find out what they drink.
It’s also clear that on the label there is not enough space (except, perhaps, on wine bottles), while online, one can get a full picture of a drink’s ingredients.
This is what the industry says.
But for consumer organisations, things are different. What about those who lag behind in technology? Don’t they also have the right to know what they drink?
At the same time, it is common knowledge that our free time has been shrinking for years now, forcing us to make well-informed purchasing decisions on the spot.
What is quicker – to read nutrition information on the label or online? Then there is the fight within the alcohol industries over the “ml” indicated on labels.
The spirits industry claims that information on calories contained in alcoholic beverages should be provided “per glass” and not per 100ml, which is the legal calorie measurement for all drinks across Europe.
But the brewers do not share the same view.
No one drinks 100ml beer but at least 250ml. Online seems to be a good compromise to bridge this disagreement. But do EU consumers need to go online just because of the industry’s divisions?
Finally, there is also another aspect that emerged from discussions with my colleagues: what if one drinks faster than he/she can read? What kind of labelling to apply then?
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Views are the author‘s