Units on glasses plan under fire

Trade slams call to put alcohol content on glassware

By Gillian McKenzie

OPERATORS have slammed calls for all pub and restaurant glasses to carry a line indicating the alcohol unit content.

Publicans and restaurateurs hit out at the suggestion, which was put forward by Drinkaware as it claimed the majority of 25 to 65 year
olds “aren’t clear about how much they can drink without harming their health”. The alcohol awareness charity wants all pub and restaurant glassware to be marked with a line indicating the number of alcohol units, based on wine at 13% ABV, beer at 4% ABV and spirits with a strength of 40% ABV.
But publicans and restaurateurs have hit out at the proposal, describing it as costly and impractical.
Malcolm Duck, owner of Ducks at Kilspindie in East Lothian, said the suggestion is “absolutely crazy”.
“All alcohol served in restaurants and bars is done so in measures,” he told SLTN.
“They should be looking at people’s houses where there aren’t these controls.
“If you’re in a restaurant, you don’t get a big wine glass and it’s filled with alcohol; it should be about a third full to let the air do the work in the glass.
“A line on a glass will not stop someone drinking.”
Paul McDonagh, who owns Glasgow whisky and cask ale pub The Bon Accord, said the proposal would be “impossible” to implement in practice.
“It might be alright if you only sold two products,” he told SLTN. “But when you’ve got whiskies ranging from 40% to 65% ABV and beers from 3.4% to 6.5% you would need a lot of different glasses.
“It would be impossible for me to do it and the cost to the industry would be huge.
“We’re talking to people in the bar about the strength of different beers and whiskies all the time. The big problem occurs with people drinking at home.”
Willie Macleod, of the British Hospitality Association Scotland, said: “The principle impact on businesses would be the cost implication, especially if all the glassware had to be changed at once. A lot of hotels use stylish and expensive glassware to set the ambience.
“There is already plenty of information available for consumers about responsible drinking and alcohol units.”
SLTA chief executive Paul Waterson said: “The SLTA supports anything that will help stop problem drinking.
“I think this is a step too far when the vast majority of alcohol is being bought and consumed outwith pubs; what they should be doing is sorting out the off-trade.”
A spokesman for the SBPA said: “Unit-lined glasses would represent a challenge when the ABV of beers and other drinks varies – generic glasses would offer inaccurate consumer information and just add to confusion.”
Elaine Hindall, chief executive of Drinkaware, said unit guidelines “aren’t working”.
“It’s not just that most people don’t know them, it’s that they don’t know how to apply the guidelines to the drink in front of them,” she said.