The Alcohol Policy Coalition is calling on the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to address the need for factual alcohol labelling in response to a rise in misleading health claims, such as ‘low carbohydrate’ on beer products sold in Australia.
Australia’s Coles supermarket chain has this week released its addition – Maxx Blonde – to the fast growing low carb beer market, worth a reported $600 million a year, sparking renewed concern by leading health groups.
“New marketing strategies, such as Coopers selling its beer as a ‘body nutrient’, are positioning beer as a healthy product and this is simply false advertising,” said Craig Sinclair, Director of the Cancer Prevention Centre, Cancer Council of Victoria. [See an important update to this story below]
“Labelling has been on the COAG agenda since March 2008 and, with a rise in misleading health claims on alcohol products, it needs to be addressed now more than ever,” he said.
Recent research shows that consumers believe low carb beer contributes to weight loss and is a healthier option than regular beer. The Alcohol Policy Coalition is calling for factual information about alcohol to be spelled out on the product packaging, namely a complete list of ingredients and health information.
“Current labelling standards that allow nutrition claims to be placed on alcohol products, such as ‘low carbohydrate’, do not account for the inherent harms associated with alcohol. This misleads consumers because it allows nutrition claims to be associated with products that are effectively empty of nutrients and overall, unhealthy.”
At least 43 countries require some form of on-product labelling, with 14 of these having mandatory health warning labels primarily around alcohol use and pregnancy.
The Alcohol Policy Coalition says studies have shown that health and warning labels have the potential to influence awareness and attitudes, and that knowing the facts about alcohol, helps consumers to make informed choices about what and how much they drink.
The Alcohol Policy Coalition is a collaboration of health agencies – Australian Drug Foundation, Cancer Council Victoria, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre and VicHealth – with shared concern relating to the misuse of alcohol and its health/social impacts on the community.
Source: Alcohol Policy Coalition
Important Story Update:
In a statement received by Australian Women Online on 9 December 2009, Coopers Brewery denied that it is marketing its beer as “body nutrient”.
Coopers Chairman, Mr Glenn Cooper, said that since he joined the brewery in 1990, Coopers had not run advertisements which referred to Coopers beers as being a “body nutrient” and there had been no below-the-line campaigns which have made this claim.
“The only reference Coopers has made to “body nutrient” was in an information booklet about the brewery on our website, which was based on historic information,” he said.
“However, any suggestion that we are making these claims as part of our current marketing campaign is completely inaccurate.”
For more information see the Coopers Brewery website at www.coopers.com.au.