Labelling on sugary drinks dubbed a 'public health scandal'

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Criticism: Labour's Tom Watson has joined campaigners over subtle nutritional labelling on alcoholic drinks including ciders
Criticism: Labour's Tom Watson has joined campaigners over subtle nutritional labelling on alcoholic drinks including ciders

Related tags Sugar

The labelling of sugary drinks has been lambasted as a “scandal” by politician Tom Watson and campaigners.

Deputy leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson spoke out against the sugar contents of a bottle of Kopparberg cider on Twitter.

He tweeted: “I love a drink but...THIRTEEN teaspoons of sugar. Almost DOUBLE the maximum recommended daily intake for an adult. In ONE glass. That's @KopparbergUK cider, 500ml.”

“The fact no labelling is required makes this a public health scandal,” he added.

Unaware customers?

His tweet was in response to a national newspaper article outlining the high sugar contents in bottled alcoholic drinks and ‘made-to-go’ cocktails.

Strawberry & Lime Kopparberg cider 500ml was claimed to contain 52 grammes of sugar – which is almost 13 teaspoons' worth – as does the company's Kiwi variant; while Rekorderlig Strawberry-Lime cider 500ml is said to have 48g of sugar. 

Kawther Hashem, registered nutritionist and researcher for Action on Sugar said of such bottled and canned products: “Due to a lack of good labelling, it doesn’t even register that you could be consuming a third of your entire daily sugar maximum in just one can.

She added: “It’s an absolute scandal. Manufacturers must reduce the amount of sugar in these beverages and have clear nutrition labelling available to all customers."

Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum told the Mail Online​: "It is outrageous that there is no legal obligation on the alcohol industry to list nutritional information on its [drinks] products.

She added: "Unfortunately, there are millions of drinkers quite unaware of the levels of sugar they consume, and brewers and bottlers are corporately irresponsible for declining to tell them voluntarily."

Government reforms

Public Health England (PHE) has said many out-of-home outlets are not acting fast enough to decrease the sugar and calorie content in their meals. It said companies that were slow on the uptake would risk being publicly called out next year.

It is consulting with businesses to finalise the proposed caps for individual product categories under the calorie-reduction programme.

Watson is an advocate of the sugar tax and has said former Chancellor George Osborne’s policy was an example “that Government can and should intervene if the food and drink industry won’t do it themselves”, in a Daily Express​ editorial.

“The big drinks companies fought the sugar tax tooth and nail saying it wouldn’t work and cutting the sugar content of drink wasn’t possible,” he wrote.

The politician lost more than six stone this year.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has previously said it should be taken into account that most customers view eating and drinking out as a treat.

She said: “We are ready and willing to support the Government, but we need to avoid any knee-jerk measures that threaten businesses disproportionately.”

The sector has already made commitments to promoting healthy attitudes and should not be unfairly lambasted, she added.

Related topics Cider Ready to Drink Legislation

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