Club Soda has issued a challenge to the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Primary Care, Steve Brine MP, after submitting their consultation response to the Government on what drinks can and cannot be called alcohol-free .
All the evidence shows that drinks under 0.5% do not cause intoxication, are safe for drivers and pregnant women, and contain the same trace of alcohol as many popular foodstuffs. Current confusing labelling rules stop people making healthier choices.
Club Soda are challenging the Minister to drink five UK brewed 0.5% beers and then drive home – legally. Although,they have warned him to pick a route with a service station, as he is he likely to need to stop for a pee on the way!
Club Soda has submitted evidence to the Government consultation on low and no alcohol descriptors, pointing out that:
- 0.5% ABV drinks do not lead to intoxication, are safe for drivers, and cause no harm to pregnant women and their babies.
- UK is the only country in the world we can find that labels 0.5% drinks as “low alcohol”. But 0.5% beers produced outside the UK can be sold here as “alcohol free”, which puts many brilliant UK brewers at a disadvantage.
- Many foodstuffs and soft drinks contain similar trace amounts of alcohol and don’t need to share this information on their labels.
- Consumers are confused by the labelling, but once given the right information they are likely to change their perceptions of 0.5% adult drinks.
- Denmark changed their “alcohol-free” labelling limit from 0.1% to 0.5% in 2014, and in the following three years the sales of alcohol free beer increased threefold.
Club Soda hope that their response to the consultation will mean the wave of new alcohol-free drinks made in the UK, such as beers, ciders, shandies, and distilled spirits can be labelled the same way as drinks imported from the rest of the world.
This clarity will help consumers looking to reduce their alcohol, sugar and calorie intake, and will support pubs and restaurants improve their offering to customers who are looking to drink less and be more healthy.
Club Soda co-founder Laura Willoughby MBE said:
“This should be a no-brainer for the Government. To have complicated rules just for drinks aimed at adults and produced in the UK, but that do not apply to anything else you put in your mouth is bizarre. The 0.5% drinks are a healthier alternative, helping people reduce the amount of sugar and alcohol they drink – they are just cutting off their nose to spite their face if they keep the rules the same.”
Fellow Club Soda co-founder Dr Jussi Tolvi who undertook the research for Club Soda said:
“From our surveying of consumers  the confusion is obvious. But once you let people know the facts about the trace amounts of alcohol in everyday foods, and that having 0.5% drinks really isn’t the same as drinking alcohol, people’s perceptions and willingness to try alcohol-free products increases. From a behaviour change and public health point of view, this would be an easy and quick win for the Government.”
Need to know
- You can read the Club Soda response to Government and challenge to the Minister. They are in response to the Government’s Consultation on Low and No Alcohol Descriptors which closes today.
- The Club Soda online survey was conducted between 30 April and 9 May 2018. The recruitment was via the Club Soda email list and social media channels (Facebook and Twitter). The number of responses was 511. The main conclusion is that education can and will change people’s views. In the survey, people were presented a series of statements about alcohol in food and drinks, and the impact of drinking 0.5% ABV drinks. The percentage of respondents who would allow 0.5% ABV drinks to be labelled “alcohol free” went up from 49% before they were presented with the information, to 67% after (read the full findings here).
- Club Soda is a Mindful Drinking Movement whose mission is to create a world where nobody feels out of place not drinking. They have a membership of over 16,000 people, have a venue guide for mindful drinkers and organise the Mindful Drinking Festivals – the next one is at Spitalfields Market on July 28th, in association with Heineken 0.0.