Canada could restrict alcohol content in RTDs

Health Canada has called for greater restrictions on the alcohol content of sugary pre-mixed beverages, arguing the drinks are becoming a growing risk to public health – especially for young people.

The agency said it has concerns about the increasing popularity and availability of flavoured alcoholic beverages that are high in alcohol and sold in large, single-serve containers.

As such, Health Canada has proposed changes to the Food and Drug Regulations to limit how much alcohol can be included in a ready-to-drink (RTD) alcoholic drink, which it said can currently contain as many as four standard drinks per container “without the taste of alcohol” due to the amount of sweeteners used.

The suggested changes would limit the alcohol content in these products to 1.5 ‘standard’ drinks (25.6ml of alcohol) when they are packaged in one-litre containers or less. Glass bottles of 750ml would be exempt from the proposed measures as they are typically used for multi-serving purposes.

Health Canada believes stricter regulations would “help protect” consumers, “particularly youth”, from “unintentional overconsumption or excessive drinking, which could lead to alcohol-related harms, including acute alcohol poisoning and death”.

Ginette Petitpas Taylor, minister of health, said: “I am deeply concerned by the increasing availability and appeal of these beverages that are high in alcohol and their appeal to youth.

“The new proposed regulations mark an important step in helping us ensure the safety of young Canadians. I encourage Canadians to review the proposed changes and to share their feedback.”

Health Canada is asking Canadians to share their views on the proposed changes from 22 December until 5 February 2019.

Dr Theresa Tam, chief public health officer of Canada, said: “A quarter of youth in Canada under the legal drinking age use alcohol excessively, which can lead to learning and memory problems, car accidents, chronic diseases and violence.

“We need to take action to prevent problematic alcohol use from impacting youth and young adults. These regulations are a step in that direction.”

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Author: Melita Kiely {authorlink}