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EU wants to put calories in drinks on alcohol bottles

Credit: Belga

The European Union wants to make it mandatory to add the number of calories in alcoholic beverages on the bottles before the end of 2022, as part of the EU’s Beating Cancer Plan.

As alcohol consumption is linked to a number of cancers, the Beating Cancer Plan includes the aim to add a mandatory list of the ingredients included on the labels of all alcoholic beverages, as well as the calorie count, and a health warning – just like with tobacco.

“For years, Europe has required food manufacturers to state in detail on all products what they contain, how many calories they hold, what the nutritional value is,” Kathleen Peleman of the Flemish Expertise Centre Alcohol and other Drugs told VTM News.

“The alcohol industry, however, has obtained a bizarre exception to this. But now, the end of that exception may finally be in sight,” she said.

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Alcohol is linked to more than 20 diseases, seven of which are cancers, mainly in the places in the body where the alcohol passes through. Throat cancer, but also liver or colon cancer are common cancers, according to Peleman.

Additionally, the Commission will review its promotion policy on alcoholic beverages, to reduce the exposure of young people to alcohol marketing, including on online video-sharing platforms.

With these measures, the EU wants to reach a reduction of the harmful use of alcohol of at least 10% by 2025, in line with the targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Additionally, the Commission has set a goal of a “tobacco-free generation,” in which less than 5% of the population smokes cigarettes by 2040, compared to over 20% now.

To achieve this, the Commission will work on, neutral packaging throughout the EU, banning flavoured tobacco and tackling advertising on the internet and social media, among other things. It also wants to review taxes on tobacco products and extend smoke-free zones.

For the entire Beating Cancer plan, the EU will invest €4 billion mainly focussing on prevention and early detection, diagnosis and treatment, announced Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

“In 2020, we lost over 1 million Europeans to cancer. Sadly, the number of cases is on the rise,” she said. “With this plan, we have set ourselves ambitious goals, but we want to save lives through prevention.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times