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New GOC Restrictions on Sugar Content in Pre-Mixed Alcoholic Beverages Take Effect

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This Spring, Canada began imposing new restriction on the sugar content in alcoholic beverages. The new restrictions require alcohol content in 568ml cans be reduced from 11.9% to 4.5%. This reduces the number of drinks within a single can of from approximately four (4) standard drinks (one beer, one five-ounce glass of wine) down to about 1.5 standard drinks.

High Sugar and Alcohol Content

Premixed drinks combine high alcohol, caffeine, and sugar content into canned drinks. The change was announced by Health Canada in December of 2018 who cited that, “These drinks can contain up to four times the standard amount of alcohol per container, yet do not taste like alcohol, because the alcohol base is purified, flavoured, and often very sweet.”

New alcohol content limits by container size are:

  • 2% in a 355-millilitre container
  • 4% in a 473-millilitre container
  • 5% in a 568-millilitre container
  • 6% in a 710-millilitre container

In a statement to CBC news, Health Minister, Ginette Petitpas said, “Basically what we’ve done, we’ve minimized the amount of alcohol [that] is permitted in these drinks and also the portion sizes is going to be limited. So now when people purchase these types of drinks, you’ll only have 1.5 portions per container.”

Recommendations to Limit Sugar Content

report on Highly Sweetened Pre-Mixed Alcoholic Beverages, created by the Standing Committee on Health, makes 15 recommendations about the sale, restrictions, sugar and alcohol quantities, including:

  • That the Government of Canada set excise tax rates for highly sweetened pre-mixed alcoholic beverages at the same rate as those for spirits.
  • That Health Canada require through the Food and Drug Regulations that all alcoholic beverages for sale in Canada clearly label the amount of sugar, calories and caffeine, as well as other stimulants contained in these beverages.

Earlier this year, we summarised a Statistics Canada Health Report detailing the results of a cross-sectional survey looking at sugar consumption among Canadians which found that sugary drinks were still the top source of sugar intake.

Sugar is one of the main causes of dental caries and the CDA recommends all Canadians take steps to cut down.

How are you talking to your patients about sugary drink consumption?

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Until next time!

CDA Oasis Team

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