Conservatives to drop alcohol unit system

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Alcoholic beverage

Units: confusing say Conservatives
Units: confusing say Conservatives
A Tory Government would replace alcohol unit labels with information about how many centilitres of alcohol are contained in a drink. Plans to...

A Tory Government would replace alcohol unit labels with information about how many centilitres of alcohol are contained in a drink.

Plans to "encourage" pubs to publish dietary information on food they serve have also been announced by Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

The Conservative's new green paper on public health says: "We will replace the abstract alcohol 'units' system with a system which is easier to understand and offers comparative 'social norm' information about the drinking habits of other people.

Lansley said: "In order that people are able to make the right choices we need to provide them with simple and correct information.

"That is why, for example, we are going to move away from the confusing system of alcohol units, and also provide people with relevant, consistent information such as the centilitres of alcohol in alcohol products, and the calories content in each alcoholic drink."

Jeremy Beadles, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association welcomed the proposals.

"It makes sense to provide information for consumers about alcohol in a way that can easily be related to specific drinks.

"Equally, it is clear that standardised labelling would require European wide agreement."

A spokesman for drinks industry watchdog Portman Group said: "Although we're building public awareness of units, they remain an abstract measurement for many.

"Additionally, UK units also have no relevance across the rest of Europe. We would welcome further debate over ways of creating a European standard for measuring alcohol that would be easier for consumers to understand."

Dietary information

The green paper also says: "We will also work with business to encourage the publication of dietary information in fast-food outlets, restaurants, cafes and bars."

Steps have already been taken in this area, however.

The Food Standards Agency is already encouraging operators to display calorie counts on menus and Mitchells & Butlers is among the 21 firms that trialed the idea in the summer.

Related topics: Legislation