Health experts say lives could be saved with changes to alcohol labelling, following a shock poll showing three-quarters of us don’t know the calorie counts of our favourite drinks.
As it stands, the law requires there to be more in-depth information on a carton of orange juice than there does a bottle of wine.
How much do you know? Try our interactive quiz below.
And despite industry-wide agreement to update labels in 2019, The Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA) says more than 70% still fall shy of their desired level of detail.
Currently they must only include the strength of alcohol (ABV), any allergens and the volume of container.
The AHA, which comprises more than 50 different UK organisations, is calling for the likes of ingredients, nutritional information and health risks to also be included.
A YouGov poll commissioned earlier this year said just 22% of people were able to roughly estimate how many calories are in a medium glass of wine.
This rose to 25% when considering a pint of lager, but plummeted to 11% for a single measure of spirits.
Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “Is it any surprise that so few Scots know the calorie content of drinks – or the Chief Medical Officer’s weekly low risk drinking guideline – when this information is not routinely provided by alcohol producers?
“It is unacceptable that a product linked to 10 deaths a day in Scotland continues to be exempt from laws on labelling that apply to everything else we eat and drink.
“The alcohol industry has dragged its feet for long enough – unless labelling requirements are set out in law we will continue to be kept in the dark about what is in our drinks and what the health risks are.
“We need reliable health and nutritional information directly on bottles and cans, where it can usefully inform our decisions.”
‘Great opportunity’ for change
The polling found just 23% were aware of guidance from the Chief Medical Officer that we should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol in a week.
And, while many products include a website address signposting to further information about health harms, only 3% have ever logged on to look.
The UK government has announced a consultation on changing the law regarding alcohol labelling, as part of a wider scheme to cut obesity.
AHA chairman, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, said: “Alcohol labelling in this country is failing to inform consumers about what exactly their drink contains.
“Displaying basic product information, such as calorie content, empowers the consumer to make informed choices about what, and how much, they decide to drink.
“This information should be displayed clearly on the product they are buying. They should not have to research basic health information online.
“The upcoming UK consultation on calorie labelling is a great opportunity for change.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We remain committed to improving health messaging on alcohol in Scotland, and the Alcohol Framework is clear that we expect producers to include the Chief Medical Officer’s guideline of 14 units weekly on labels and cans
“Along with devolved administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland, we are discussing with the UK Government their plans for calorie labelling and the UK CMOs’ low risk drinking guidelines on alcohol products in order to explore options. This still leaves the option for Scotland to take specific action.”
Last month it was revealed that alcohol sales in Scotland have dropped to their lowest level in two decades but – on average – people are still drinking more than the recommended amount.
We also found that almost 40% of readers said they had been drinking more since the start of the pandemic.