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FSA Enforcement Letter (ENF/E/17/055), 7 September 2017
The UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) published finalised guidelines on low risk drinking in August 2016. The Department of Health have agreed that there will be a transitional period until 1 September 2019 to reflect the new guidelines on the labelling of pre-packaged alcoholic beverages.
Local Authorities are asked to:
In August 2016, the UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) published new finalised guidelines on low risk drinking. The Department of Health in England has been working closely with the Alcohol Industry and published voluntary guidance on the 24 March 2017 regarding how these guidelines could be communicated on labels. This is available here:
The above voluntary labelling guidelines communicated 3 key messages from the CMO guidance to be reflected on pre-packaged alcohol products:
A noticeable change from the new guidance from the old is the move from the daily unit guidelines to weekly. The daily unit statements on pre-packaged alcohol beverages are therefore no longer accurate and they could be considered to breach the EU Food Information to Consumers Regulation (No.1169/2011) (FIC). However, this regulation does allow a period of transition for implementing new guidance.
Given the size of the UK alcohol market and the variety of products available, with some stock moving at a faster pace than others, an acceptable period of transition has been agreed until 1 September 2019. It is expected that labels on higher turnover prepackaged alcohol beverages will start to reflect the new CMO guidelines over the next 12 months.
Any products produced before the end date of the transition period, which may stay on shelf for a number of years, can continue to be sold until stocks are exhausted as is general practice around any new labelling arrangements, because labels were correct at time of production. This allows time for the products to make it through the supply chain and off the shelves and is particularly important for an industry in which many products have a long shelf life.
It is requested that no action is taken before the 1 September 2019 against manufacturers or retailers who continue to provide the “old” CMO advice as voluntary information on prepackaged alcoholic beverages.