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International Drinking Guidelines

Below is a table of drinking guidelines from various countries. It lists the entity that developed the guidelines and includes recommendations for men and women, size of the standard drink (in grams of ethanol), and other recommendations or notes.  (Last updated: February 2010)

Country Source Men Women Standard Drink Other Recommendations
Australia

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC): http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/.

no more than 2 standard drinks on any day reduces the lifetime risk of harm; no more than 4 standard drinks on a single occasion reduces the risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion no more than 2 standard drinks on any day reduces the lifetime risk of harm; no more than 4 standard drinks on a single occasion reduces the risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion 10g

For children and young people under 18 years of age, not drinking alcohol is the safest option.

For women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, not drinking is the safest option.

In some situations, not drinking is the safest option; this includes: when taking part in recreational or occupational activities that require a high level of attention, psychomotor skills, and concentration (e.g., driving, water activities, operating heavy machinery, etc.); when supervising others who are taking part in such activities; when supervising children.

Specific population groups can be at increased risk if they drink alcohol; these include: young adults aged 18 to 25 years; older people aged over 60 years; people with family history of alcohol dependence; people who use drugs illicitly.

A range of people may need to seek professional advice about drinking because of the possibility of interactions and harmful effects; they include: anyone taking medication; people with alcohol-related or other physical conditions that can be made worse or affected by alcohol; people with mental health conditions.

See http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/publications/synopses/ds10syn.htm for the full text of the Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol (2009).

Austria Bundesministerium fur Arbeit, Gesundheit und Soziales (Federal Ministry for Labour, Health and Social Affairs) [http://www.bmsg.gv.at/] 24g pure ethanol per day 16g pure ethanol per day 10g The "hazardous level" of drinking (posing unacceptable risk for health consequences) is defined as consuming 40g-60g alcohol or more.
Canada

Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines

 

15 drinks a week, with no more than 3 drinks a day most days

No more than 4 drinks on any single occasion.

10 drinks a week, with no more than 2 drinks a day most days

No more than 3 drinks on any single occasion

341 ml 5% alcohol beer, cider or cooler; 142 ml 12% alcohol wine; 43 ml 40% distilled alcohol

 

Czech Republic National Institute of Public Health [http:www.szu.cz] less than 24g per day less than 16g per day N/A The recommendations are for adults (aged over 18 years) who are healthy and not engaged in risky behaviors or taking medication.
Denmark Sundhedsstyrelsen [National Board of Health (NBH)] [http://www.sst.dk/english/ind ex.asp] not to exceed 21 alcohol units (252g) a week not to exceed 14 (168g) units a week 12g The National Board of Health recommends that children under the age of 15 years should not drink alcohol.
Finland Oy Alko AB (Alko Inc.) [http://www.alko.fi/] not to exceed 15 units/week (165g/week) not to exceed 10 units/week (110g/week) 11g  
France Ministry of Health and Sports [www.sante-sports.gouv.fr/] not to exceed 30g/day not to exceed 30g/day 10g « La santé vient en mangeant : le guide alimentaire pour tous », National Program for Health & Nutrition (PNNS) recommends: Those who drink should reduce their consumption; pregnant women should not drink; do not drink and drive.
Germany Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung (BzGA, Federal Center for Health Education) [http://www.kenn-dein-limit.de/] not to exceed 24g/day not to exceed 12g/day   BZgA recommends at least two days of abstinence from alcohol a week. Drinking above the recommended levels is said to be risky for one's health.
Hong Kong Department of Health & Social Security not to exceed 3-4 units/day, not to exceed 21units/week not to exceed 2-3 units/day, not to exceed 14 units/week 1 unit = glass/wine or pint/beer  
Iceland Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Council     N/A Pregnant women are advised to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Indonesia Ministry of Health     N/A National Dietary Guidelines state: "Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages."
Ireland Department of Health 21 units/week (210g/week) 14 units/week (140g/week) 10g  
Israel Ministry of Education, Psycological & Counselling Services     N/A Recommended: Pregnant women should not drink; students should not drink more than one unit of alcohol per drinking session; avoid alcohol if taking medication.
Italy Ministry for Agriculture & Forestry and National Institute for Food & Nutrition less than 40g per day less than 40g per day 12g The Nutritional Guidelines (Linee guida per una sana alimentazione italiana) state: The acceptable daily quantity of alcohol is 0.6g per kilo of body weight. If only wine is consumed, the guidelines suggest drinking less or equal to 450ml (3 glasses) for men and less or equal to 350 ml (2 glasses) for women, to be divided between lunch and dinner. Consumers are recommended to avoid consumption during "evolutive age," pregnancy, and breastfeeding; older adults are recommended to reduce their drinking; alcohol should be avoided before driving, when using dangerous machinery, or if undergoing drug therapy. [Legislation: Law Decree 28 Dec. 1998 converted in Law 26 Feb. 1999 n. 39 – Chapter "The aims of Health" pg. 17-18]
Japan Ministry of Health, Labor & Welfare 1-2 units/day (19.75-39.5g/day)   19.75g  
Luxembourg Ministry of Health       The health authorities promote moderate alcohol consumption (without specifying limits of daily or weekly amounts of pure alcohol that should not be exceeded) and urge consumers to refrain from drinking alcohol when driving.
Netherlands The Health Council of the Netherlands not to exceed 2 units/day (20g/day) not to exceed 1 unit/day (10g/day) 10g The Health Council recommends that people who consume alcohol are well advised to limit their intake. Binge drinking should be avoided. Alcohol consumption is ill-advised for people under 18 years of age, pregnant women, women attempting to become pregnant, and women who are breastfeeding.
New Zealand Alcohol Liquor Advisory Council (ALAC) not to exceed 3 units/day (30g/day), not to exceed 21units/ week (210g/week) not to exceed 2 units/day (20g/day), not to exceed 14 units/week (140g/week) 10g ALAC recommends that, on special drinking occasions, consumption should not exceed 6 units/day (60g/day) for men and 4 units/day (40g/day) for women. Consumers are reminded that alcohol-containing drinks are high in energy density and may contribute to weight gain. Some alcohol-free days are recommended each week. To reduce the risk of cancer, it is recommended to avoid alcohol. To reduce cardiovascular risk, it is suggested to drink only moderate amounts of alcohol. When serving drinks, servers are urged to ensure that non-alcoholic (and low-alcohol) drinks and food are available. Consumers are recommended to eat food when drinking alcohol and to restrict or avoid alcohol when driving, operating machinery, or engaging in water activities.
New Zealand The Ministry of Health     10g The Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Health Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women: A Background Paper advises women to avoid drinking alcohol during pregnancy and breastfeeding. [http://www.moh.govt.nz/moh.nsf/by+unid/F4F10903136588EFCC25716200123030?Open]
Norway Directorate for Health & Social Welfare     N/A Situational abstinence is recommended, such as when driving, during pregnancy, at work, or in the company of children and young people.
Norway Alkokutt [http://www.alkokutt.no]     N/A Allcokutt suggests: Don't drink on an empty stomach; warn friends when they have had enough to drink; show respect to people who do not drink alcohol; remember that women can hold less alcohol than men; listen to experienced professionals; be on guard against social pressures to drink, even among friends; remember situations when no alcohol should be consumed; never drink alone; do not drink if you are underage.
Philippines Department of Health     N/A National Dietary Guidelines state: "For a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition, exercise regularly, do not smoke, and avoid drinking alcoholic beverages."
Poland State Agency for Prevention of Alcohol Related Problems 2 units/day (20g/day) up to 5 times/week (not to exceed 100g/week) 1 unit/day (10g/day) up to 5 times/week (not to exceed 50g/week) 10g Two alcohol-free days a week are recommended.
Portugal National Council on Food and Nutrition 2-3 units/day (28-42g/day) 1-2 units/day (14-28g/day) 14g (unofficial) Based only on wine consumption.
Romania Ministry of Health not to exceed 32.5g beer/day or 20.7g wine/day not to exceed 32.5g beer/day or 20.7g wine/day N/A  
Singapore Ministry of Health     N/A National Dietary Guidelines state: "Limit alcohol intake to no more than 2 standard drinks a day" (about 30g alcohol).
Slovenia Institute of Public Health of Slovenia not to exceed 20g/day and not to exceed 50g/drinking occasion not to exceed 10g/day and not to exceed 30g/drinking occasion N/A  
South Africa South African National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence not to exceed 21 units/week (252g/week) not to exceed 14 units/week (168g/week) N/A The government's position is outlined in a brochure titled Healthy Lifestyles (1995), which calls for drinking in moderation ("Limit yourself to no more than 2 to 3 drinks a day").  
Spain Ministry of Health and Spanish Institute for the Investigation of Beverage Alcohol not to exceed 3 units/day (30g/day) not to exceed 3 units/day (30g/day) 10g It is noted that wine is officially considered as an integral part of a Mediterranean diet.
Spain Basque Country: Department of Health & Social Security not to exceed 70g/day not to exceed 70g/day N/A  
Spain Catalonia: Central Authority not to exceed 4-5 units/day (32-50g/day) not to exceed 4-5 units/day (3250g/day) 8-10g  
Sweden Vetenskapsradet (Swedish Research Council) [http://www.vr.se/English/] not to exceed 20g/day not to exceed 20g/day N/A It is recognised that moderate alcohol intake may have certain positive medical effects.
Sweden The Swedish National Institute of Public Health (SNIPH)     N/A  
Switzerland Swiss Federal Commission for Alcohol Problems and Institut Suisse de Prevention de l'Alcoolisme et Autre Toxicomanies (Swiss Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol & Drugs Problems) not to exceed 2 units/day (not to exceed 24g/day) not to exceed 2 units/day (not to exceed 24g/day) 10-12g Consumers are recommended not to drink more than 4 units of alcohol in one session and not to consume more than 1 unit per hour; they are asked to avoid drinking alcohol when participating in sports or before driving/operating machinery. Underage young people are urged to avoid alcohol.
Thailand Ministry of Public Health     N/A National Dietary Guidelines state: "Avoid or reduce the consumption of alcoholic beverages."
United Arab Emirates Ministry of Health     N/A No official drinking guidelines exist. Alcohol is available in hotels to guests and visitors. Expatriate residents must posess a liquor permit, available to non-Muslims. Retail outlests sell only to permit holders for personal consumption. Providing alcohol to others (beyond licensed retail outlets) is forbidden.
United Kingdom Department of Health should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units/day (24-32g/day) should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units/day (16-24g/day) 8g

"Regularly" means drinking every day or most days of the week; a break of 48 hours after a heavy drinking session is recommended "to let your body recover." Consumers are reminded the following: "Don't mix alcohol with any kind of medication as it can reduce the effect of the medication and icnrease harmful side-effects; don't mix alcohol with recreational drugs; don't drink and drive or operate machinery; be careful if you have mental health problems such as depression, as alcohol can make these worse."

Women who are pregnant or who are trying to become pregnant are advised to avoid drinking alcohol; if they do choose to drink, they "should not to drink more than 1-2 units of alcohol once or twice a week and should not get drunk." 

Consumers are directed to the Know Your Limits website for further advice: http://www.drinking.nhs.uk/.

United Kingdom Scottish Executive 3-4 units/day (not to exceed 32g/day) 2-3 units/day (not to exceed 24g/day) 8g  
United States Department of Agriculture and Department of Health & Human Services 1-2 units/day (14-28g/day), not to exceed 14 units/week (196g/week) 1 unit/day (14g/day), not to exceed 7units/week (98g/week) 14g Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans (5th ed.) recognizes that moderate drinking may lower the risk of coronary heart disease among men over 45 and women over 55 and that exceeding moderate consumption can raise the risk for accidents, high blood pressure, stroke, violence, suicide, birth defects, and certain cancers; a safe level of alcohol intake has not been established for women at any time during pregnancy; consumers are urged to avoid drinking before or when driving. It is recommended to consume alcohol with food to slow absorption.
United States National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) not to exceed 4 units/day (56g/day), not to exceed 14units/week (196g/week) not to exceed 3 units/day (42g/day), not to exceed 7units/week (98g/week) 14g  
United States American Heart Association not to exceed 2 units/day (28g/day) not to exceed 1 unit/day (14g/day) 14g