The Department of Health is to publish refreshed drinking guidelines “in the coming months”, and expected to revise advice of 3-4 units a day for men and 2-3 for women following research concluding current limits are unsafe.
It could ring alarm bells for licensees, as guidelines allow men to drink one pint of beer at up to 5.2%abv and still fall within the guidelines, while women can drink a 175ml glass of 13% wine.
If drinkers took the advice as gospel, it could say brand many popular drinks not sensible to consume in pints for beer or small glasses for wine.
Popular brands that are often up to 5%abv could be pushing or above the limit advised by Government if it was significantly reduced.
Premium beers commonly push higher in abv terms, so they could be the market most significantly implicated.
BrewDog claims its Punk IPA to be the most popular craft beer in the UK, and at 5.6% it’s already too strong to ‘sensibly’ enjoy a pint of on Government terms.
Research revealed earlier this year by Harvard School of Public Health concluded one glass of wine a day for women could increase the risk of breast cancer.
The industry has reacted cautiously to rumours of the move.
The British Beer and Pub Association and Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers want an evidence-based approach, and for consumers to have reasoning behind and changes clearly explained.
Work on the review has been underway since early 2013, after the Science and Technology Committee recommended guidelines should be reviewed in the light of emerging science since the current guidelines were first established in 1995.
It will include evidence from experts including epidemiologists, behavioural science experts, communication specialists, medical experts and public health experts.
Call for consultation
But the BBPA thin the industry deserves its say in any changes.
Chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Given how widely the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines are supported and used, if any change is to be recommended, we would hope and expect this to be based on a wide review of all the academic research and evidence, with an open consultation process.”
And the ALMR urged Government to recognise the benefits of the on-trade in tackling unhealthy levels of drinking.
Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The pub provides a supervised environment in which to drink, something that is not offered by super-cheap, off-licence alcohol.
“The licensed hospitality sector plays a crucial part in addressing alcohol-related harms and providing choice to its customers.”
The Sunday Times has reported that a source with knowledge of the Department of Health's alcohol guidelines discussion informed them it is to be lowered. Research into the links between drinking and cancer is said to be a "game changer" in the move.