Alcohol industry marketing body Portman returned the official low-risk guidelines to its label recommendations this week, nearly five years after it quietly stopped. A fifth of products still do not carry them.
The body dropped
them in late 2017 after some of its alcohol sector backers objected. Around 70%
of the sector’s revenue is made from the sale of alcohol to a minority who drink at harmful or hazardous levels.
“The industry knows that I will be watching it like a hawk,” said
then-health minister Steven Brine in January 2019 (pictured). This had little effect, with only lipservice
paid at the end of a little-known “grace period” in September.
It is now approaching three years since that unenforced deadline passed. The alcohol industry’s own
figures say a fifth of products still do not carrying the low risk drinking guidelines.
“The Portman Group continues to set industry standards effectively, responsively, and at no cost to the public purse,“ said Portman’s in its press release this week. But alcohol harm advocates beg to differ.
Witholding consumer health information serves the shareholders of alcohol businesses, not the wider public interest, while alcohol harm comes at the expense of public finances and those of the millions it affects.
Responsibility for the failure to inform consumers about low risk drinking lies with politicians giving the task to an organisation with a clear interest in delaying for as long as possible. ■