The hidden sugar menace in our fave festive tipples

The hidden sugar menace in our fave festive tipples

Anti-obesity campaigners want to force "irresponsible" manufacturers to include full nutritional information on all alcoholic drinks to help consum

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Anti-obesity campaigners want to force “irresponsible” manufacturers to include full nutritional information on all alcoholic drinks to help consumers make wiser choices over the festive season and beyond. The Sunday Express has seen hundreds of examples of supermarkets selling high-sugar pre-mixed alcoholic drinks without any nutritional information. We found one mixed drink contained five teaspoons of sugar – and some ciders have a whopping 13.

Experts fear drinkers are increasingly unaware of the high levels of sugar in some ready-mixed drinks and want the Government to “end the outrage” and make labelling mandatory.

Tesco and Morrisons are the only major supermarkets currently listing the sugar content on a handful of alcoholic drinks But apart from alcohol content, required by law, the majority lack basic nutritional information.

We discovered a £1.80 200ml can of Baileys Iced Coffee Latte contained nearly 7oz (19.8g) of sugar – almost five teaspoons and two-thirds of an adult’s daily recommended limit.

A 250ml can of Tesco Vodka Cranberry on sale for £1 had 15.4g of sugar – nearly four teaspoons.

At Morrisons, a Gordon’s Pink Gin & Tonic for £1.95 contained 8.7g, more than two teaspoons, of sugar in a 250ml serving.

Hundreds of other pre-mixed drinks containing alcoholic spirits like whisky, gin, vodka, alcopops and fruit ciders are being sold with no accompanying guidance except alcohol-by-volume percentage.

Further research by this newspaper uncovered worrying levels of calories and sugar in several popular fruit cider brands – all sold without any nutritional information, either online or on the packaging. A standard 500ml bottle of strawberry or kiwi flavoured Kopparberg cider contains 53g of sugar – nearly 13 teaspoons – and 330 calories. The daily recommended sugar limit for an adult is 30g.

And a 500ml Rekorderlig Strawberry Lime Cider contains more than 12 teaspoons of sugar – 48g.

Last night, diet experts and health campaigners demanded that the Government makes rapid changes so consumers can be better educated on their drinking choices.

Clare Thornton-Wood of the British Dietetic Association said: “It’s hard for consumers to get nutritional m information on alcoholic drinks as there is currently no legal obligation to include this on the label or online shopping sites.”

Tam Fry of the National Obesitywho gave in ‘Dry’ 2018 Forum said: “It is outrageous that there is no legal obligation on the alcohol industry to list nutritional information on its products.

“Foodstuffs must display all their ingredients by law and though some foods may be considered addictive, alcohol invariably is, and should be no exception to the rule.

“Unfortunately there are millions of drinkers quite unaware of the levels of sugar they consume and brewers and bottlers are corporately irresponsible for declining to tell them voluntarily.

“Worse still, over the festive weeks ahead, that quantity of sugar may double or even treble for many and inevitably leave them with long-term health consequences.” Nutritionist and researcher Kawther Hashem, of the charity Action on Sugar, said: “These high-sugar calorific drinks are often bought on impulse for drinking ‘on the go’.

“Due to a lack of good labelling, it doesn’t even register that you could be consuming a third of your entire daily sugar maximum in just one can. It’s an absolute scandal.”

Andrew Misell, Alcohol Change UK’s Wales director, said: “As with food labelling, it’s probable that those of us who are trying to control our calorie intake would make use of the information, whilst many other people would ignore it.

“That said, it’s always been a strange anomaly that soft drinks carry a lot more information for consumers than alcoholic drinks.

“If we’re going to insist soft drinks manufactures tell us what we’re drinking, it’s hard to see why the alcohol industry should be let off that responsibility.”

Speaking on behalf of supermarkets, Andrea Martinez-Inchausti of the British Retail Consortium said: “For most alcoholic drinks, the calorie value on the label results exclusively from their sugar content. This means consumers can infer the sugar content from the calorie value on the label.

“Nonetheless, the nutrition labelling of alcoholic drinks is currently being reviewed in Europe. Once consensus is reached, our members will swiftly amend their labelling.”

John Timothy of trade body the Portman Group said it “actively encourages all producers to signpost to the Drinkaware website on their labelling”.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “We will continue to work closely with the alcohol industry to provide health information.”

She added: “The 2016 Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines are available and offer advice on low risk drinking – we expect industry to reflect these guidelines on labelling.”

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