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Nutrition Labels On Alcohol - About Time?

Posted in General Health 26 May, 2015

If I asked around my acquaintances I know their answer would be 'dear god, no, don't take away my only guilt-free pleasure - it's bad enough looking at those gruesome pictures on cigarette packets, you know, the ones that make hard kids want to smoke more? All I have left after wine is my poster of Han Solo.'

It's odd though…

Because nearly everything we eat or drink is labelled. There has been a big push recently towards transparency in food packaging. Experts reckon that labelling the contents of alcoholic products might cut down on binge drinking. Though I wonder how it will work in pubs, if it ever goes that far. Will the calorie intake be printed on the bottom of your pint glass?

Currently EU rules on food labelling don't include alcoholic drinks. Whereas other drinks, such as squash, fruit juice, and even bottled water (!) must list calories, sugar, and fat per 100mls, alcohol escapes such focused attention. Alcoholic drink manufacturers are allowed to label the contents of their drinks if they want to, it's voluntary though, not enforced.

Why's it taken so long?

Alcohol has always been lacking in the nutritional information department. This is no doubt because alcohol contains a lot of calories and barely any nutrients. There are roughly 150 calories per beer or glass of wine if your servings are the small pub size. A Budweiser packs 140 calories per serving, and a shot of Barcardi rum contains 96 calories. No wonder I put on so much weight at university - with all those shots in one glass, it must have been like eating thirty massive sausage rolls in one sitting. Now there's an idea.

Anyone for a healthy Guinness?

Guinness wants to label their frothy thirst-quenching beverage, but that's probably because it may be a bit good for you, if the high iron content claims are true. Anaemics take heart; throw away that boiled liver with spinach. Guinness will cure you! When it's labelled perhaps doctors will prescribe Guinness, you'll be able to buy it in the supplements aisle. Or maybe not. Perhaps a hundred years of healthy Guinness adverts might be blown out of the water.

Guinness' brewer Diagio also makes Blossom Hill wine, Baileys, Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff so there is no escape. Protein, carbohydrate and calories in a typical serving will soon be labelled up.

The End of An Era?

The Food Standards Agency thinks we don't get enough health information from our alcohol, and that's partly what's fuelling the obesity of the nation. They are probably right; head-burying never did anyone any good. Plus, it'll be handy for vegetarians and the wheat-intolerant. But those of you who, like me, who just look for the % on a bottle of wine, may be unhappy about our last pleasure turning into facts about how we are destroying our health.

I imagine it might set in motion a chain of 'diet' alcoholic drinks to rival Lite Coors beer. I quite fancy a pint of diet Guinness and glass of diet Rioja. That'll go great with my calorie-labelled salad.

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