Campaigners are calling for changes to be made on alcohol labelling, as “vital” information such as ingredients and sugar content is being left off most packaging.

A survey of labels on 369 alcohol products by the Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA) found some 6% displayed the sugar content and 20% provided the full list of ingredients.

Some 42% stated the calorie content and only 5% provided full nutritional information.

Previous research by the AHA found that wine can contain anywhere between zero and 15 teaspoons of free sugars per bottle.

Some 65% of products included the up-to-date chief medical officer’s drinking guidelines, with 29% not displaying any guidelines and 6% showing old or foreign guidance.

The Argus: The sugar content in wine is not often shown on bottles, according to campaigners (PA)The sugar content in wine is not often shown on bottles, according to campaigners (PA)

In the UK, alcoholic drinks are only required to display their alcoholic strength by volume (ABV) and common allergens on labels.

Information on nutritional values, including calories and sugar content, ingredients and health warnings is not required, with 3% of labels surveyed by the AHA carrying general health messages.

But the AHA noted that this differed from other food and drink products which are required to provide information on nutritional values and ingredients, and that most restaurant menus must now display the calorie count of meals as part of the drive to reduce obesity.

The AHA is now calling on the Government to make it a legal requirement for alcohol companies to display nutritional information and health warnings on their products.

AHA chairman Professor Sir Ian Gilmore said: “Alcohol’s continued exemption to the rules and standards followed by the rest of the food and drinks industry is detrimental to our health.

“Alcohol is not only a risk factor for cancer but it’s fuelling obesity – with some alcoholic drinks containing more calories than a Mars bar and others containing more than double your recommended daily sugar intake.

“Given the choice, most alcohol producers are leaving this vital information off the labels, keeping consumers in the dark about what’s in the products they are drinking.

“Those who profit from the sale of alcohol cannot be trusted to willingly provide product information. Legislation on alcohol labelling must ensure that consumers have the full picture of the contents and risk to health of the products they buy through Government making clear labelling on all alcohol products a legal requirement.”

Matt Lambert, chief executive of alcohol social responsibility body Portman Group, rebuked these findings and said: “This report doesn’t correspond to the findings of Portman Group’s much larger and more comprehensive recent survey where we looked at 400 products including the biggest brands by market share – the ones which accurately represents what most customers are buying.

"That research found near universal coverage of industry best practice showing pregnancy warnings, alcohol unit information, signposts to responsibility messages, and four in five products carrying the Chief Medical Officer’s low risk guidelines.

“Industry self-regulation has been responsible for voluntarily delivering greater information and awareness for consumers and the AHA’s own report shows that significant progress has been made.

"The sector is firmly on track to provide more information to consumers without recourse to valuable Parliamentary time, public funding or mandatory measures”.