Monday, 28 July 2008

Labels and smears

There has recently been a scare story in the press about the poor take-up of the voluntary scheme on unit labelling of alcoholic drinks. However, as this report points out, this analysis has been based on a fundamental misconception, as it has taken no account of the market share of the products concerned. It may be that less than 50% of the products on sale have the correct labels, but those that do account for 90% of packs actually sold. And is it really a problem if a few packs of obscure, small-volume imported beers and wines don’t have the labels anyway? Indeed, if every single pack has to carry these labels it could be regarded as a restraint of trade.

On a similar theme, there was a report that significant numbers of under-age people were being served in pubs and bars - but, astonishingly, this was based purely on whether people superficially looked under 18, without any attempt to confirm their age or indeed whether they were drinking alcohol. It is extremely dangerous to base public policy on such dubious hearsay evidence.

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