News roundup: June 2019

July 2019 | 7 minutes

The monthly alcohol news roundup from the Alcohol Policy UK blog.

Each month we publish a news roundup from the Alcohol Policy UK blog. Since the May roundup

In the news

Health guidance missing from alcohol labels

The latest health guidance is missing from alcohol labels, the BBC reports. It says the alcohol industry has not updated health information labelling three years after health experts issued new guidelines. Several media reports highlighted an announcement that labelling on alcohol products would be made mandatory under a Labour government, as shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth revealed at the Alcohol Change UK national conference.

Grace period for alcohol label change almost over

A BBC Panorama investigation, presented by Adrian Chiles, found that just 14 of 100 alcoholic products carried updated information. Katharine Severi, from the Institute of Alcohol Studies, said the "self-regulatory system is failing" whereas John Timothy, chief executive of alcohol industry-funded Portman Group, said: "When the updated guidance came out, the industry was given a period of grace to change labels, that period of grace ends in September this year. There are ongoing discussions amongst my members about how they communicate that risk."

Adrian Chiles “The government betrays no appetite to regulate the industry.”

Writing in the Guardian, Adrian Chiles said the alcohol industry hasn't been honest about alcohol. In the piece, he said the industry is not doing enough to provide sufficient calorie and health information, highlighting the exemption for alcoholic drinks in food labelling regulation. Chiles writes 'the government betrays no appetite to regulate the industry' as secretary of state for health, Matt Hancock, declined to appear on BBC Panorama and has said he’s “dead against” minimum unit pricing.

Eurostar ‘backtracks’ on alcohol ban

Eurostar has 'backtracked' on its booze ban, reports the BBC. It says the company has updated its policy on how much alcohol passengers can carry, following a backlash on social media. The firm still reserves the right to confiscate excessive amounts of alcohol for consumption on the journey, but customers can take unopened alcohol to their destination.

Young people lead the way as alcohol-free alternatives become increasingly popular

Young people are 'leading the trend' for alcohol-free beer, reports the BBC. Huge growth in the number of craft breweries on both sides of the Atlantic has coincided with more people choosing to drink less alcohol, or even none at all. The piece explores alcohol-free beers, which legally can include 0.5% ABV drinks, apparently aiding brewers to make tastier products. Alcohol-free beer "has no effect on a person whatsoever... a ripe banana or slice of bread can contain 0.5% alcohol", said Rob Fink, co-founder of the Big Drop Brewing Company.

Irn-Bru invests in alcohol-free spirit producer

The soft drinks firm behind Irn-Bru is entering the alcohol-free spirits market, having invested £1m in a 20% minority stake in Stryyk, which makes alcohol-free rum, vodka and gin, reports the BBC. Chief executive Roger White said: "More and more consumers are seeking a drink that adds positively to their social experience but without the side-effects of alcohol."

Tackle Scotland’s alcohol problem by curbing sports sponsorship

A crackdown on sport sponsorship is key to tackling Scotland’s alcohol problem, a piece in the Scotsman argues. Despite “extremely encouraging” signs following a fall in consumption after the introduction of minimum unit pricing, it argues there is still a long way to go and "politicians need to start using controls on advertising and sponsorship to reduce the visibility of alcohol in society".

Research

Women largely unaware of alcohol and breast cancer link

Women are not aware of the link between alcohol and breast cancer, reported the BBC. Two hundred women took part in the study, published in the online journal BMJ Open. They were either being screened for breast cancer, or having symptoms checked. Only one in five women could name alcohol as a risk factor, despite the fact that alcohol consumption is estimated to be responsible for 5-11% of cases.

Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in Scotland affects more than we might think

As many as 172,000 people could be affected by Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in Scotland, as a mother has laid bare the "brutal reality" of bringing up her adoptive son after he was left damaged by exposure to alcohol in the womb, reports the BBC.

Rise in drug and alcohol-related deaths

The UK is experiencing a surge in fatalities from drug and alcohol misuse, reports the Times. It argues the figures show 'a public health crisis requiring a complete rethink of drug strategy to focus on reducing the harm to individuals and society'.

Drink Wise, Age Well report shows many think they should cut back on their own alcohol consumption

More than four million Britons aged over 50 think they should cut back on the amount of alcohol they drink, reports the Independent. It follows a national survey of 2,120 older people by the campaign group Drink Wise, Age Well, finding 24 per cent of 50 to 54-year-old drinkers sometimes think they should cut down, compared with 20 per cent of 60 to 64-year-olds and 10 per cent of over 75s.