Labelling to be introduced next year
Retailers have backed new health warnings that will appear on alcohol sold in the UK, to be introduced by the end of next year, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC). The labels will provide information on the number of units within each bottle or can, recommended safe drinking limits and offer health advice for pregnant women.

The retail industry has been involved heavily in the development of the labelling system, which was announced by the Department of Health yesterday. And some retailers have already introduced health warnings on their own-label drinks.

BRC head of food policy Andrew Opie said: 'This is another practical demonstration of retailers' responsible attitude to selling alcohol. [The label] gives consumers an easy way to make informed decisions about how to enjoy alcohol responsibly. The BRC and its members will continue to look at new ways to promote healthy lifestyles.'

Public health minister Caroline Flint did not reveal the exact wording to be used on the labels, but said the warnings will not be as strong as those found on cigarette packets. She said: 'We want to make it as simple as possible for people to keep an eye on how much they are drinking and help them take responsibility for lessening the impact excess alcohol can have on their health.'

The Department of Health said that, although most people were aware of recommended daily guidelines, only 13 per cent kept a check on the number of units they drank. Last week, official UK figures revealed that alcohol-related deaths in men have more than doubled in the past 14 years.