John Bowis MEP raises a glass to Brussels' light ale decision

John Bowis, Conservative MEP for London, was today saying "cheers" to the European Commission after bureaucrats saw sense and agreed to exempt light ale from draft laws on food and drink labelling currently being considered.


The decision follows a long campaign by Mr Bowis to have the popular tipple excluded from the scope of the planned legislation, which is designed to crack down on misleading descriptions on food products. The Commission says it wants tighter controls on terms such as "low fat", "fat free", and "light". 

John had feared restrictions on the use of "light" would have discriminated against traditional British light ale because the word refers to the drink's colour and character, not to any claim that it has less calorific content than other beer. The Commission is pressing for all alcoholic drinks above 1.2 per cent alcohol by volume to be prohibited from making any claims about their health benefits.

John said, "I am delighted the Commission has seen sense and removed light ale from the scope of this legislation. Drinkers in the UK have been enjoying light ale for generations. Forcing manufacturers to change the drink's name would have been absurd.

"We accept the need for clear, unambiguous food and drink labelling. But the problem with the blanket approach that the Commission has taken is that all products are affected in the same way, regardless of their special characteristics.

"Pub customers will be delighted."