This Government set out in the 2019 Green Paper, “Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s”, commitments to work with industry to deliver a significant increase in the availability of alcohol-free and low-alcohol products by 2025 and to review the evidence to consider increasing the alcohol-free descriptor threshold from 0.05% ABV up to 0.5% ABV, in line with some other countries in Europe. We remain committed to this goal, and I am proud to announce that on 28 September we launched a public consultation, “Updating labelling guidance for no and low-alcohol alternatives”.
Reducing the harms associated with excess alcohol consumption remains a priority for this Government. As of 2021, approximately 10 million, or one in five adults in England drank above the UK chief medical officer’s low-risk drinking levels, significantly increasing their risk of health problems.
Making alcohol-free and low-alcohol products more available will increase consumer choice. It will help to promote the options of lower-strength alternatives to consumers, and changing the alcohol-free descriptor threshold in non-statutory guidance could support further innovation in the sector. We are seeking views on this potential change, as well as a number of other potential changes to Department of Health and Social Care voluntary guidance on labelling of alcohol-free and low-alcohol products, to provide greater consistency for producers, retailers and hospitality, and clarity for consumers.
DHSC will consider which, if any, changes should be made to the guidance following the consultation to support its policy aim to reduce excess alcohol consumption and associated harm among people who regularly drink above the UK chief medical officer’s low-risk drinking guidelines.
I encourage all those with an interest—the alcohol industry, public health organisations, and consumers themselves—to share their views with us through responding to this important consultation.