Product labels can serve a number of purposes, providing information about the product to the consumer, enticing the consumer to buy the product and warning consumers of dangers and health risks from the product.
Listing the ingredients contained in a particular beverage alerts the consumer to the presence of any potentially harmful or problematic substances. Even more importantly, providing the nutritional information such as calorie content allows consumer to monitor their diets better and makes it easier to keep a healthy lifestyle.
European Commission Report: 'State of play in the use of alcohol beverage labels to inform consumers about health aspects' (January 2014)
Whilst food manufacturers are legally obliged to provide nutritional, content and calorie information on their products, alcohol (beverages containing more than 1.2% by volume) are exempted from this; so consumers will still be unable to know exactly what is in wine, beer or spirits or how many calories they are consuming.
In early 2018 under pressure from campaigners, the European Commission gave the alcohol manufacturers the option to voluntarily provide such information on their bottles. Such self-regulation did not work as they chose not to, instead offering to apply QR codes to their labels so that consumers could use to go online and look up this information. Public health campaigners condemned this outcome and EUROCARE, which represents civil organisations from 24 European countries, has renewed its call for full product information to be made mandatory for alcoholic products, so that consumers can be properly informed about what they are drinking. See EUROCARE'S recent reports on this issue (below).
Eurocare believes there is a public health interest in informing consumers, by means of labels, of the dangers and health risks associated to the consumption of alcohol. These messages would be a symbolic statement concerning the nature of the product and a low cost reminder that alcohol consumption has some risks. In this document, you will find a number of sample labels.