Recently we have heard numerous complaints from the anti-drink lobby that an unacceptably high proportion of bottled and canned products are still not carrying the “voluntary” alcohol health warning (sic) information. As I pointed out last year, this analysis is fundamentally dishonest, as it only looks at the proportion of individual products without considering how much of each is sold. If more than 90% of all actual packages sold are covered, can it really be argued that consumers of the remaining 10% are never exposed to these messages (which are in any case a work of fiction)?
In my experience, the products that don’t carry them tend to be low-volume, premium-priced specialist imports which are hardly going to be the drink of choice for problem drinkers. For example, I have in my cupboard a 500ml bottle of Tegernseer Spezial, a high-quality 5.6% ABV Bavarian lager that cost me £2.20 for the bottle, or 79p per alcohol unit – surely dear enough to satisfy even the most ardent anti-drink campaigner. But it carries no health warning, so it will inevitably carry me further down the road to ruin. If the worst comes to the worst, importers will have to stick superfluous and unsightly extra labels on bottles to satisfy the requirements.
While I’m far from the greatest fan of the European Union, surely individual countries applying their own labelling rules should be outlawed as a restraint of trade.