Information about beverage alcohol on alcohol labels is provided in two different forms:
- factual information about beverages;
- directional information, including advice and recommendations about drinking patterns and levels, behaviors, and practices.
The purpose of such information is to raise awareness among consumers about the products they are drinking, as well as about how much they are consuming and the potential risk for harm.
Information may be included as on-product labels or as messaging on promotions and advertising.
- In many countries, information about alcohol content is included on packaging. Expressed as ABV (alcohol by volume), or “proof” in the case of spirits, the labels indicate the amount of alcohol in a container.
- Other information may include an indication of how many “standard drinks” or “units” are contained in a bottle or a can. In some countries, such labeling is mandated; in others, it is a voluntary effort by producers (see Policy Table: Beverage Alcohol Labeling Requirements by Country).
- Labels may also list ingredients, potential allergens, or additives. This is required on alcohol packaging in some countries.
Health warning labels (HWLs) are intended to alert consumers to potential risks that may be associated with particular drinking patterns (e.g., drinking and driving or alcohol consumption during pregnancy). Such messaging can also be included on alcohol promotions and advertisements.
Although health labeling has been shown to increase awareness among consumers, it does not appear to have a significant impact on changing behavior.