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UK pub body upset over calorie labelling reports

Reports that the UK government is considering making pubs and bars print calorie counts on wines, beer and spirits has drawn a sharp rebuke from one of the country’s leading trade bodies. 

Mandatory calorie labelling on wine, beer, and spirits in UK pubs and bars is set to be one of the measures mooted in an upcoming government-led consultation aimed at tackling obesity.

According to a report by The Sun newspaper this week, some ministers favour an approach that would force bars, as well as retailers, to say how many calories are contained in alcohol being sold.

The government signalled that calorie labelling rules were an option in its ‘tackling obesity’ policy paper published in July 2020.

It said it will be ‘consulting on our intention to make companies provide calorie labelling on alcohol’.

The fresh speculation that this could include bars and pubs drew the ire of the British Beer & Pub Association this week. 

‘Proposals to force calorie labelling on pints sold in pubs are ludicrous – and especially outrageous at this difficult time,’ said Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association

‘After more than a year of being forced to close fully or operate under severe loss-making restrictions, now is not the time to heap burdensome and expensive regulation on our pubs.’

A debate over calorie labelling on alcohol has been underway for some time, and some companies have already committed to providing calorie information for drinkers.

Speaking following the launch of the government’s obesity policy paper last year, the then-CEO of alcohol industry self-regulatory body Portman Group, John Timothy, said, ‘We support efforts to provide consumers with more information about their purchases and are committed to working with the government to ensure that these proposals align with much of the voluntary work already taking place. 

‘Many producers have already committed to provide nutrition and calorie information on-pack and online by 2022.’

See also:

How much tax do you pay on wine in the UK? 

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