Close the label loophole
When you buy a product, you deserve to know what you are getting, and usually you do. But, there is one glaring exception: alcoholic drinks.
Due to a legal loophole, alcoholic drinks like beer, cider, wine and spirits don’t need to give any nutritional information. That means you don’t get to know the energy (kilojoules) in what you drink.
This is especially worrying considering the amount of kilojoules found in alcoholic beverages; one bottle of cider can contain 868 kJs, the equivalent of eating a small McDonald’s fries.
Drinking a handful more kilojoules because you had that extra eggnog or finished off the bottle of sticky may seem inconsequential, but the impact of kilojoules in alcohol are significant.
Discretionary foods – those that are kilojoule dense but offer little in the way of good nutrition – currently make up an unhealthy 35% of the average Australian’s daily energy intake, and contribute to weight gain and obesity. Chips, confectionery and sugary soft drinks are likely the types of food that spring to mind, and they’re certainly culprits, but in fact alcohol is now the leading contributor to Australia’s discretionary kilojoule intake.
With almost two-thirds of Australian adults being classified as obese or overweight, it is no longer tenable that alcoholic beverages are exempt from providing this essential nutritional information.
Some companies voluntarily provide nutritional information for some of their alcoholic beverages, but often it’s only for their lower kilojoule options.
Lion Corporation publishes online the kilojoule content of its 3.5% alcohol XXXX Gold beer but not its 5% alcohol 5 Seeds cider, for example.
Carlton and United Breweries publishes the kilojoule content of its beer and cider products on its website. Of the 28 spirits listed on its website, it only provides kilojoule information for six.
The alcoholic beverage industry believes that self-regulation is the best approach and this pre-emptive strategy is often used to derail efforts to introduce tighter regulation. But allowing industry to voluntarily provide this information is inadequate for dealing with this issue.