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Industry bodies welcome the European Commission's nutritional labelling 'invite'

Published:  13 March, 2017

Industry bodies have welcomed the European Commission's invite to the alcohol industry to develop a self-regulatory nutritional labelling proposal.

Following the conclusion of a report by the Commission this week, the industry has been invited to propose, within a year, a "harmonised approach" aiming to provide consumers with information about the ingredients present in alcoholic beverages, together with nutritional value.

The EC's decision not to force mandatory labelling on alcohol at this stage, instead challenging the industry to come forward with "the most effective way to properly inform consumers, without space limitations, in this digital age", was applauded by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) and the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA). 

Trying to cram more information on labels, which have limited space, would be a backward step, said WSTA chief executive Miles Beale, adding 20th century methods should not be used on a 21st century issue. 

"People who want to know more about what they are drinking are very capable of going online and finding out for themselves. The alcohol industry has shown they are ahead of the game on nutrition information and have for some time provided consumers with off-label calorific content of drinks," he said.  

Also in favour of the initiative, the SWA said it would study the Commission's proposals and consult with its members.

"Scotch Whisky should be consumed in a responsible manner, as part of a balanced diet. It is right that consumers have the information they need to make choices that fit with a healthy lifestyle, including calorie intake," said acting chief executive Julie Hesketh-Laird. 

The proposal would be assessed by the Commission. Should it consider the self-regulatory approached proposed by the industry as unsatisfactory, it would then launch an impact assessment to review further available options in line with Better Regulation principles, it stated. 

The EU regulation on the provision of food information to consumers, which became applicable in December 2014 includes rules on listing ingredients and providing a nutrition declaration. These rules are mandatory for all foods, including alcoholic beverages. There is an exemption, however, for beverages containing more than 1.2% alcohol per volume.