Food labelling e-learning course
Nutrition and health claims

Nutrition and health claims

A beer label with the description 'Alcohol-free beer'

The controls on nutrition and health claims for alcoholic beverages are very restrictive. Health claims are not permitted at all; the only nutrition claims permitted relate to energy or alcohol content. In some cases, specific conditions for these nutrition claims are not set, but the UK government has defined what conditions should apply for consistency with parallel claims on other foods. Special terms are defined for 'non-alcoholic' drinks with not more than 1.2% alcohol.

Health claims

Health claims (e.g. 'red wine helps to maintain normal heart function') are not permissible for alcoholic drinks containing more than 1.2% ABV.

Nutrition claims

The only nutrition claims permitted for drinks containing more than 1.2% ABV are those relating to low alcohol levels, or to the reduction of the alcohol or energy content.

Nutrition claims permitted, but with no specific rules in EU or UK legislation

No specific conditions of use have been set in UK or EU legislation for the following permitted claims.

'Reduced energy'
The UK view is that the energy should be at least 30% reduced and the extent of the reduction should be quantified on the label, e.g. 'reduced energy - 30% fewer calories'. The claim should not include an indication of the characteristic which makes the food reduced in energy as this is likely to constitute a prohibited nutrition claim on alcohol. See section 3.3 of the Department of Health guidance.

'Reduced alcohol'
This claim must not be used in a way which misleadingly implies 'low alcohol' (see below). Best practice would be that the claim is only used where the alcohol has been reduced by at least 30% and the extent of the reduction is quantified on the label.

The UK view is that these terms can be used under the same conditions as 'reduced alcohol', with an indication that it is a reduction in alcohol which makes the drink 'light'/'lite', e.g. 'light - 30% less alcohol'. Alternatively, the terms can be used to indicate a reduction in energy under the same conditions as for 'reduced energy' (e.g. 'light - 30% fewer calories': see above). The labelling should not also imply that the product is 'reduced alcohol' if this is not the case.

Nutrition claims subject to specific UK legal controls

There are national rules, which will remain in place beyond 13 December 2014, on the following claims:

  • 'Low alcohol' or word(s) having similar meaning - not more than 1.2% ABV
  • 'Dealcoholised' - not more than 0.5% ABV and having undergone a dealcoholisation process
  • 'Alcohol-free' - not more than 0.05% ABV
  • 'Non-alcoholic' – permitted in the composite name 'non-alcoholic wine' (communion wine) subject to certain conditions