Some of you may have seen the front page of Metro newspaper this morning with the headline:
Low-Strength Booze ‘is sold as soft drink’ – Weaker products could increase alcohol intake.
While I am delighted that low strength alcohol is making front page news, I am sorry to see that it is being shown in a negative way and there is a bit of scaremongering that these products will cause greater problems with alcohol.
This is a subject that I am passionate about, and something that I am looking into in greater detail because I have had serious problems with alcohol due to anxiety and depression, and it is a serious problem in general that needs to be addressed.
Now I am not for banning alcohol or sticking warning labels on bottles with pictures of an alcoholic’s liver; but I do believe that more should be done to promote non-alcoholic and low alcoholic options, especially in pubs and bars.
The particular article in today’s Metro refers to a study conducted by Cambridge University; it obviously quotes from the study, and having not seen the full findings (will see if I can find them), I am sure there is a little bit of manipulation by the journalist in order to spark a debate….. Guess I’ve fallen for that one then…..
I have a couple of problems with the article, especially it’s accuracy; firstly the study classed beer with an alcohol content of less than 2.8% and wine with less than 8.5% as low strength. If we look at beer, the current UK law defines the following:
- Alcohol Free Beer = no more than 0.05% ABV
- De-alcoholised Beer = no more than 0.5% ABV
- Low-alcohol Beer = no more than 1.2% ABV
- Alcoholic Beer = contains more than 1.2% ABV
The article refers specifically to Foster’s Radler which is 2% ABV (so classed as alcoholic) which was mentioned in the study; they go on to say that ‘Morrisons was offering 12 bottles of Foster’s Radler on its website with a boast that the 2% larger can refresh thirsty sportsmen and women.’ I have looked at Morrisons website and (unless they just changed it) this is what it says
Originally crafted in 1922 to refresh thirsty sportsmen and women, Radler delivers the refreshing taste of lager cut with citrus flavour and is known throughout the World as a true thirst-quencher!
Foster’s Lager cut with cloudy Lemon (2% ABV).
A perfect way to refresh whether its at a BBQ, down at the beach or when you’re watching the game with mates.
For more information visit: heineken.co.uk/nutrition.
Contains 2.7% lemon juice from concentrate
In Morrisons defence, they aren’t really promoting it as a sports drink. I can see that the reference is not really needed at all, but I don’t think we will see people swigging Radlers in the gym whilst working out!!!
In my local supermarkets the non and low alcohol drinks are in the beer and wine section, not with the soft drinks, so I am not sure where their point is that these products are sold as soft drinks, yes they have fruit in the adverts, but in the case of Foster’s Radler there is a picture of a lemon because it contains lemon juice…….
At the end of the day most soft drinks are not as healthy as that industry wants us to believe either. That’s where our good old friend sugar comes into play; I used to have a small bottle of fruit smootie each morning and the sugar hit would spark a migraine, but all that’s for other blogs.
I think it is a shame that non/low alcohol products are being portrayed as making a growing problem worse; I’m not usually a supporter of big industry but I think that if breweries are trying to make a difference (and a lot are), then good on them.
On the plus side, the article does highlight that MP Fiona Bruce (who chairs an all party parliamentary group on alcohol harm) accused the government of failing to tackle excessive alcohol consumption, and she told the BBC that “We are facing a crisis that isn’t recognised, or being addressed, by government.” So it is good to see someone raising the issue.
As part of ‘And Breathe…’ I am going to try and do my little bit by investigating the following:
- How alcohol affects our mental health.
- What Supermarkets are doing to help promote low/non alcoholic beers and wines?
- What breweries are doing to help people who are addicted to their products?
- See if restaurants and pubs will stock more low/non alcoholic beers and wines.
- What the government are doing about alcohol related issues.
- See the different types of non/low alcoholic drinks that are available.
At the end of the day alcohol is a poison, and our body doesn’t like it. We all know the basic effects of alcohol, but they do not stop us reaching for a bottle or glass when we are stressed or relaxing.
People need to know more information so that they can make an informed decision as to whether they drink alcohol or not.
My journey is to try and reach a point where I can enjoy a small amount of alcohol and not see it as a form of self medication when times get tough; non/low alcohol beers are a big part of that journey so I am all for them.
If you are interested in learning more about non/low alcohol drinks, I would highly recommend you visit The Alcohol-Free Shop website. A while ago I ordered a mixed case of 30 non-alcoholic beers and I was surprised to see some well known brands in there (I love Sagres and Super Bock because of holiday memories, and guess what; they do an alcohol free version). Having made my way through the 30 bottles (not all at once) I found that the myths of them tasting awful is not true, it is the same as food, just a case of retraining our taste buds.
The Alcohol-Free Shop has a great FAQ’s page where you can find out more information about the differences between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
Next time you are in a supermarket or a pub, have a look and see what options they have, I dare you to try one.
Thank you, thank you, thank you