This week we have launched our new Standard Drinks Calculator. The use of the calculator is for people to quickly calculate what a standard drink is based on the Alcohol by Volume (ABV) percentage and millilitres of alcohol they are buying. This new tool was partly inspired by a report by Frank Houghton and Cáitlín O’Mahony that discusses diversity of beer and cider products sold in Irish supermarkets*.
The report detailed that there is a significant level of imbalance in the container size and alcohol content of beer available in standard Irish supermarkets. There is an absence of mandatory alcohol warning labels in Ireland. Because of this, it is important to reiterate what a standard drink is. In Ireland, one standard drink contains 10 grams of pure alcohol. Common examples of a standard drink include a half pint of 4.5% lager, 100ml glass of 12.5% wine and pub measure of 40% spirits.
The HSE routinely describe beer at a nominal 4.5% alcohol, with strong beers being rated at either 5% or 5.6%**. However, craft and micro-breweries have a long history of creating beers and ciders of varying sizes and strengths. From the report, standard supermarkets sell beer and cider that is much stronger than the nominal 4.3%-4.5% assumed in public health advice and in varying sizes. The new standard drinks calculator allows a person to calculate what a standard drink is. This is useful as one can monitor how much they are consuming. Supporting one to make healthy and mindful choices and changes to their drinking habits. Visit our website for tips to drink less alcohol.
The report highlights that the beer that was examined across supermarkets ranged in strength from 3.0% to 8.5%. All the supermarkets sold beers with an alcohol content of 7.5% or more. The alcohol content of the ciders ranged from 4.0% to 6.0%. In this report, there were 35 different beers of varying strengths. There were also 9 types of ciders of vastly different strengths. There was considerable variation in the container volumes of beer and cider available. Beer was sold in 12 different sizes, while cider was sold in 5 varied sizes.
Section 12 of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act, 2018 includes provision for the introduction of alcohol warning labels. Including a specific requirement regarding the warning detail ‘the quantity in grams of alcohol contained in the container concerned’. Since there is no date of enactment for this section of the legislation, this does not allow people to easily monitor their alcohol consumption and follow healthy drinking guidelines. Our new tool enables people to do exactly that.
* Houghton , F. . and O’Mahony, C. . (2022) “An examination of the diversity of beer and cider products sold in Irish supermarkets in the context of health promotion advice”, South Eastern European Journal of Public Health (SEEJPH), 18(1). doi: 10.11576/seejph-5720
** Hope A. A Standard Drink in Ireland: What strength? Health Service Executive – Alcohol Implementation Group. Dublin, Ireland: HSE, 2009.