Portman commissions responsible drinks audit

19 February, 2008

Drinks on sale at off-licences and convenience stores across the UK are to be randomly checked to ensure they are being marketed responsibly.

Members of a management consultancy, appointed by the Portman Group, will also visit bars and pubs and shop on-line stores over the next two weeks to check the drinks being sold there are compliant with Portman’s Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Drinks.

Five hundred different products will be bought and measured against the code in the first audit of this kind. Drinks companies found to have breached the code will be allowed six months to change their marketing or risk being investigated by Portman’s independent complaint’s panel.

Portman chief executive David Poley, said he hoped the move would help to strengthen public confidence in drinks marketing.

“The industry is responding to public concern about alcohol misuse by making sure that its house is in order. No other European regulator has instigated such a stringent audit of standards. We are determined to ensure that drinks producer activity remains beyond reproach,” he said.

Drinks producers have backed the move which they say is a pro-active step towards raising industry standards.

Steve Perez, managing director of Global Brands said: “A stringent audit which provides greater clarity to manufacturers and further advises them on correct codes of conduct, can only be a good thing for the sector.

“We feel confident this audit will prove productive in the long term and extremely helpful to the industry as a whole.”

Last year seven complaints were made to the independent complaint’s panel, with five of them upheld.

Under the code drinks producers must not market alcoholic drinks to under-18s or encourage rapid or down-in-one drinking. The alcohol content of a drink must be made clear on the label but the its alcoholic strength should not be dominant. It also advises against any association with illegal drugs, bravado, aggression or anti-social behaviour and any suggestion that the drink will lead to sexual success or increased popularity is also banned.

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