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Pressure grows on operators to do more on alcohol units

13 January 2012 by
Pressure grows on operators to do more on alcohol units

A report released this week by a committee of MPs recommended that people should have at least two days a week completely clear of alcohol, as the issue of excessive drinking continues to dominate the headlines.

The MPs also highlighted problems when it came to understanding how many units of alcohol there were in a drink. Recent research by the Office of National Statistics showed that while 90% of people had heard of units, only 13% actually kept a check of the units they drank and fewer than one in three knew what one unit of wine was.

The chairman of the committee, Andrew Miller, said: "Alcohol guidelines are a crucial tool for Government in its effort to combat excessive and problematic drinking. It is vital that they are up-to-date and that people know how to use them."

Meanwhile, the Wilson Drinks Report, published this month, found in a survey of 2,000 adults that just 9% correctly identified a 250ml glass of red wine as having more units than a pint of Stella or triple vodka and Red Bull.

The news of the reports comes not long after the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) revealed that it was launching a new initiative as part of the Government's Responsibility Deal on alcohol, making materials with much more visible alcohol unit information for customers available on its website for all pubs and licensees to download free of charge.

Pub operator Marston's has already adopted the material and will directly supply 116,000 beer mats, 1,160 posters and 25,000 tent cards to pubs.

Drinkaware chief executive Chris Sorek said: "We welcome the BBPA and its members' commitment to deliver this informative consumer-friendly guide and look forward to seeing the campaign roll out across the UK. We feel the "2-2-2-1″ approach will quickly become the way people keep track of their units on a night out."

The BBPA's campaign materials are based on the "2-2-2-1" approach, to show the units in a typical pint of 4% abv beer, a typical 330ml bottle of 5% beer, a 175ml glass of 12% wine, and a 25ml single of a 40% spirit.

What is a unit?
In the UK, alcohol producers have made a voluntary decision to specify the number of UK units in a beverage. One unit is equal to eight grams of pure alcohol.

Source: Responsible Service of Alcohol: A Server's Guide

Unit guidelines
Advice on the maximum number of units of alcohol that should be consumed was introduced in 1987- 21 units a week for men and 14 for women. In 1995, the advice was changed to recommend that men did not regularly drink more than three to four units per day. The figures were two to three for women.

What's in a drink?

Pint of Becks Vier lager (4% abv)
2.3 units
227 calories

Pint of Magners cider (4.5% abv)
2.6 units
233 calories

Standard glass of Veuve Clicquot Champagne (12% abv)
2.1 units
133 calories

275ml bottle of WKD (4% abv)
1.1 units
184 calories

Large glass of Campo Viejo Rioja (13% abv)
3.3 units
170 calories

Source:" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">

How to calculate how many units of alcohol are in a drink
[Amount of drink (ml) x Strength of drink (abv) ] ÷ 1,000

By Neil Gerrard

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