Labels revealing how costly a glass of wine or beer could be
in terms of weight gain could soon be on the way, as the
Government explores making them mandatory.
Alcohol manufacturers already label drinks with standard
drink measurements and some voluntary health warnings.
Now, the Government is considering adding another requirement
- labelling the number of kilojoules each drink contains.
"They [alcoholic drinks] contribute quite a large proportion
of our energy, around about 5 per cent, which is around about
the same as sugar," said Auckland University of Technology
nutrition professor Elaine Rush.
"If we are going to have sugar labelling mandatory on
products, we should not be ignoring the elephant in the room
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand is considering
whether people should be told the energy content of drinks,
in the same way they are told the kilojoules in other
Two years ago, an independent panel charged with reviewing
food labelling recommended kilojoule labelling for all
alcohol products and a nutrition information panel for
pre-mixed alcoholic drinks.
Food Standards has commissioned a cost-benefit analysis on
the concept, including looking at how energy labels might
change buying and consumption.
Lion's external relations director, Liz Read, said the brewer
was in regular consultation with the Ministry of Primary
Industries on the review.
Asked if Lion was opposed to kilojoule labelling, Ms Read
said the process had to be worked through.
"Lion is pretty focused on promoting moderation and the idea
of alcohol being a legitimate part of a healthy, balanced
There was also little evidence that consumers made decisions
based solely on energy information displayed on food.
But Professor Rush said alcohol was an energy-dense product,
which meant it contributed to weight gain.
She said a common response to calls for more labelling on
such products was that individuals were free to choose what
they ate or drank.
"To have a choice, you need to be properly informed.
Alcoholic drinks are energy dense, and nutrient poor.
"We have a big problem in New Zealand, we are growing too
quickly in size. Sugar is receiving a lot of attention, and I
think we need to make sure the public are as well informed
about alcohol and the products they buy off the shelves."