Product-labelling regulation is an important instrument in promoting healthier habits and public institutions are ideally positioned to utilize it. For consumers, the food label is the principal source of information at the point of sale. It is the right of consumers to make informed choices about the products they purchase, and it is the obligation of public institutions to ensure consumers are able to do so. Labels could be considered as part of a comprehensive strategy to provide information and educate consumers to prevent and reduce drug-related harm. This policy option should be seen not as an initiative that will modify behavior overnight, but as a way of bringing gradual change over time.
There are four message components that may be considered when developing an effective health label, each serving a different purpose:
(i) signal word to attract attention;
(ii) identification of the problem;
(iii) explanation of the consequences if exposed to the problem;
(iv) instructions for avoiding the problem.
The visual impact of the label can be enhanced by using large, bold print; high contrast; colour; borders; and pictorial symbols. Previous research has shown that consumers prefer short front-label claims to lengthy back-label explanations, or a combination of both. Furthermore, studies have reported greater effectiveness for labels using graphics and symbols, adjective labels, and labels with minimal numerical content. Knowledge of the nutritional value and ingredient information of alcoholic beverages is very limited; there is a demand among consumers to receive this kind of information. Surprisingly few studies have analysed consumer interest in nutritional labels on alcoholic beverages. However, the findings bring to light a clear information gap (limited knowledge of the nutritional content of alcoholic drinks) and a strong interest expressed by consumers for nutritional information to be included on labels.