Low-carb beer advertising misleads consumers and marketing strategies that position these as healthy products are untrue, the Alcohol Policy Coalition has announced.

The Coalition has called on the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to push for factual alcohol labelling in response to what it refers to as ‘misleading health claims’ made by low-carb beer producers.

According to Craig Sinclair, director of Cancer Prevention Centre at the Cancer Council of Victoria, labelling has been on the COAG agenda since March 2008 and, with a rise in misleading health claims on alcohol products, the Council needs to stop dragging its feet.

“New marketing strategies, such as Coopers selling its beer as a ‘body nutrient’, are positioning beer as a healthy product and this is simply false advertising,” explained Sinclair.

“Current labelling standards that allow nutrition claims to be placed on alcohol products, such as ‘low carbohydrate’, do not account for the inherent harms associated with alcohol. This misleads consumers because it allows nutrition claims to be associated with products that are effectively empty of nutrients and overall, unhealthy,” said Sinclair.

Sinclair said recent research showed that consumers believe low-carb beer contributes to weight loss and is a healthier option than regular beer.

The Coalition believes that information about alcohol should be spelled out on the product packaging, including a complete list of ingredients and health information.

Dietitians Association of Australia spokesman Alan Barclay indicated
in 2008 that low-carb beer advertising was misleading because all beers
are low-carb anyway – what really matters is the kilojoule and alcohol

This announcement comes after Coles released its own brand of low-carb beer into a market that is worth an estimated $600 million per year.