Health Canada restricts the amount of alcohol in single-serve flavoured purified alcohol beverages
May 23, 2019 Ottawa, ON Health Canada
Flavoured purified alcoholic beverages, a new and growing class of beverages in Canada, pose an increasing public health risk to Canadians, particularly youth. These beverages are high in alcohol, containing as many as four standard alcoholic drinks in a single-serve container. They are often highly sweetened, which makes it very easy to unintentionally consume large amounts of alcohol in a very short period of time, potentially leading to serious alcohol-related harms.
Today, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, announced new regulations to restrict the amount of alcohol in single-serve containers of flavoured purified alcoholic beverages. The purpose of these regulations is to protect Canadians, in particular youth, from the immediate risks posed by these beverages, including unintentional overconsumption and acute alcohol poisoning. These regulations are effective immediately given the seriousness of the risks. There is no transition period.
Under the new regulations, single-serve flavoured purified alcoholic beverages are now limited to 25.6 mL of alcohol (representing 1.5 standard drinks) when they are packaged in containers of a volume of 1000 mL or less. Many other single-serve alcoholic beverages on the market, such as coolers and traditional beer, are sold in formats that contain between 1.0 and 1.5 standard alcoholic drinks. The 1.5 standard drink limit is below the daily recommended limit for women, and consuming two such containers is still within the recommended limit for special occasions, which is 3 drinks. This is consistent with Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines, which recommend consumption of no more than two standard drinks per day for women and no more than three standard drinks per day for men.
The regulations announced today will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on May 29, 2019, and are available upon request from Health Canada.
“In Canada, single-serve flavoured purified alcoholic beverages have been implicated in numerous hospitalizations and at least two deaths in the past year and a half. This is a tragedy. Health Canada has taken action to help protect Canadians—particularly youth—from unintentional overconsumption of alcohol because excessive drinking can lead to alcohol-related harms, including acute alcohol poisoning and death.”
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor Minister of Health
“I remain very concerned about the prevalence of problematic alcohol use, especially among Canadian youth. These regulations restricting alcohol content in single-serve flavoured purified alcoholic beverages can help to reduce the potential health harms and keep youth safe.”
Dr. Theresa Tam
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada
Before these regulations came into force, an adult weighing 82 kilograms (180 pounds) would have found themselves over the legal limit for impaired driving by consuming a single container of flavoured purified alcohol in one hour.
The impact would be even greater for youth. For example, if a youth weighing 45 kilograms (100 pounds) consumed a single-serve flavoured purified alcoholic beverage, they could become severely intoxicated. If they consumed two of these beverages, they could be hospitalized with a risk of death.
Health Canada consulted on the proposed regulations from December 22, 2018, to February 5, 2019. A total of 60 comments were received: 28 from members of the public, 17 from government organizations, 9 from health stakeholders, and 6 from industry stakeholders.
Office of Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health
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