Choice calls for clearer labelling on alcohol

Consumer group Choice has called for improved labelling on alcoholic drinks to help people compare their kilojoule options on beverages.

Choice spokesperson Katinka Day said many people enjoy a festive drink at Christmas but cannot easily compare the kilojoule options.

“While consumers can find out the amount of kilojoules they’ll be consuming if they bite into a hamburger or a packet of chocolate biscuits, a loophole in Australia’s food regulation means that alcohol companies are exempt from providing this information,” Day said.

“It doesn’t make sense that there’s one rule for a can of coke and another for a premix can of coke and whiskey.”

Kilojoule labelling would reveal that a can of a popular premix vodka drink has almost two and a half the kilojoules as a glass of medium dry white wine, Choice found.

“Our current labelling means that consumers can’t make side-by-side comparisons of alcoholic beverages and we can’t rely on alcohol companies fixing this themselves,” Day said.

“While some alcohol companies voluntarily provide nutrition information, on closer look, they pull the sneaky tactic of not disclosing kilojoules on all of their products, especially their high kilojoule options.”

Alcohol is classified as a discretionary food by Australia’s Dietary Guidelines – meaning it’s packed with kilojoules but offers little or nothing in the way of beneficial nutrients – and is the number one food group contributing to Australians’ energy intake from discretionary foods.

Australia’s Health and Food Ministers recently agreed to launch a public consultation on kilojoule labelling in alcoholic beverages in early 2018.

Choice is calling on Health Ministers to require alcohol companies to be honest about what’s in their drinks, and warns against allowing the industry to self-regulate.

“It’s absurd alcohol companies can exploit this labelling loophole,” Day said. “Without such basic information, consumers aren’t able to make an informed choice.”

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