Entrepreneur Food & Drink

Should Alcohol Brands Come With a Warning Label? This Ontario Company Thinks So.

Proposed alcohol advisory label indicating ingredients, alcohol, and carbon footprint.

Earlier this month Canada gave its alcohol consumption guidelines a much overdue overhaul, quickly becoming the topic du jour over many a dinner conversation (likely over a few drinks.) Published by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA), the latest round of recommendations was the first update to the guidelines in over a decade (11 years, to be exact.) 

Acknowledging that 40 percent of people living in Canada aged 15 years and older consume more than six standard drinks per week, the report warns that no amount of alcohol is safe to consume. Its new cap on weekly alcohol consumption is no more than two alcoholic drinks per week in order to minimize risk, a dramatic shift from the previous cap of 15 drinks for men and 10 drinks for women. 

Unsurprisingly, the news came as a bit of shock for most Canadians who like to partake in a little tipple here and there but one Canadian company is among the first to officially comment on the growing calls for warning labels on alcoholic beverages.

Can of alcohol on dinner table with advisory label on packaging.
Courtesy of Wilda

Wilda, an Ontario-based producer of low-alcohol, natural spritzers has proposed a Consumer Advisory label that prioritizes three pillars of disclosure based on units of alcohol, ingredients, and carbon footprint.

Co-founder Mike Mills says, “We started Wilda because we believe that consumers should know as much about their drinks as they do their food. Alcohol manufacturers should be transparent with consumers about what ‘s in their products; this feels like table stakes.” 

Ben Leszcz, Mills’ business partner and co-founder, adds, “How can consumers make informed choices without knowing what’s in their glass? Responsible consumption begins with consumer education, and with an acknowledgment that the health of people and of the planet are inextricably linked. We welcome this opportunity to advance the values of transparency, well-being, and sustainability in the alcohol industry.”

Three yellow cans in water showing alcohol advisory label.
Courtesy of Wilda

Design-wise, Wilda’s proposal is a big departure from the warning labels we’re used to seeing in other regulated sectors like tobacco and cannabis. Whether or not any progress is made toward additional transparency on alcoholic beverage packaging, several questions arise—are consumers desensitized to warning labels? Are there any alternatives where imbibers can access the same information otherwise? What about consumption by the glass in a restaurant or bar? Will small businesses have the resources (financial and otherwise) to provide the requisite information? 

Watch Editor-in-Chief Lance Chung’s recap on the news here.