Health experts call for sugar tax and labelling changes for pre-mixed drinks

Pre-mixed alcoholic drinks have come under fire for containing “unnecessarily high” levels of sugar and calories, experts have warned.

Action on Sugar, a UK-based charitable organisation, has produced a report which analysed the levels of sugar and calories in alcoholic drinks. The company tested more than 200 RTDs, which are currently one sale in shops or online.

The report found some pre-mixed gin and tonics had nine teaspoons of sugar per 25cl can, which is equivalent to a can of cola. It said a 70cl bottle of WKD Blue contained 59g of sugar, while VK Blue contained 52.4 grams per 70cl or 13 teaspoons of sugar.

The report also found only 41% had nutritional information on the packaging and only 9% included sugar information.

The latest research from Action on Sugar has led to a call from health experts to include alcoholic drinks in the government’s “sugar tax” while the charity also called for greater clarity in packaging.

Chairman of Action on Sugar, and Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University in London, Graham MacGregor, said it was a “national scandal” that pre-mixed alcoholic drinks were not subject to sugar tax or label requirements.

The legislation, which was implemented in April 2018, adds a charge (to the soft drinks manufacturer) of 24 pence per litre for a drink containing 8 grams of sugar per 10cl, and 18 per litre for a drink if it contains between 5 to 8 grams of sugar per 10ml.

Katharine Jenner, campaign director at Action on Sugar, said: “’Gin in a tin’ has become a cultural phenomenon with these types of drinks often consumed ‘on the go’ and without a moment’s consideration to how much sugar and alcohol goes into them.

“Even if you did want to know, you can’t make a healthy choice as only one in ten of the products surveyed had enough information available.”

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