A complaint about the packaging of K Cider promoting immoderate drinking and urging the consumer to drink rapidly or ‘down’ the product in one, has not been upheld by the Independent Complaints Panel (Panel). A copy of the full decision can be read here.
The complainant, Portsmouth City Council, believed that the combination of the strength of the product plus the fact the product is served in a 500ml non-resealable can encouraged consumers to drink immoderately. As “once opened [the product] must be consumed or rapidly lose quality of taste etc. This encourages people to drink the entire can in one serving…” thus breaching the Portman Group Code under paragraphs 3.2(f) and 3.2 (g).
The product was brought to the attention of the Panel prior to the consultation on the Chief Medical Officers’ (CMOs’) 2016 Low Risk Drinking Guidelines, and was put on hold until the Guidelines Review had concluded. The Panel noted that the current CMOs’ guidelines did not contain a daily or single occasion drinking guideline, and the Panel could not infer from the evidence presented to the CMOs by the Guidelines Development Group that 4.2 units on a single occasion was an immoderate (whether because of increased risk to health or safety or otherwise) level of drinking. The Panel therefore concluded that there was insufficient evidence to find a breach of Code paragraph 3.2(f).
The Panel could not see anything on the packaging that would encourage a consumer to drink rapidly or to ‘down’ a product in one. Accordingly, the Panel did not uphold the product under Code paragraph 3.2(g).
Secretary to the Independent Complaints Panel, Kay Perry said:
‘‘Alcohol producers must be mindful not to encourage immoderate or irresponsible drinking when designing the packaging of their products. If they are in any doubt, the Portman Group Advisory Service is free and confidential, and responds to all enquiries within two working days.”