Health Canada Takes Action to Limit Purified Alcohol Beverages

Available data, research studies, and reports related to the products point to a growing public health risk, the agency warned.

Saying it is concerned by the risks of a new and growing class of drinks, flavored purified alcoholic beverages that are high in alcohol and sold in large, single-serve containers, Health Canada recently proposed amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations to significantly reduce the amount of alcohol in them. These beverages can contain as many as four standard drinks per container without the taste of alcohol, because the alcohol base is purified, flavored, and often highly sweetened. The products are associated with hospitalizations related to unintentional over-consumption or excessive drinking of alcohol among youths.

The proposed regulatory changes would restrict the alcohol content in these beverages to 1.5 standard drinks (25.6 ml of alcohol) when they are packaged in containers of 1,000 mL or less. This includes both non-resealable and re-sealable containers. Glass containers with a volume of 750 mL or higher will be exempt from the regulations because that format is typically for multi-serving products.

"Available data, research studies and reports related to these products point to a growing public health risk. To minimize the risk to Canadians, Health Canada has proposed these draft regulations to limit the amount of alcohol in this type of beverage to amounts that are more in line with Canada's Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines. The proposed regulations reflect comments received in response to the Notice of Intent, a report from the Standing Committee on Health, and feedback from stakeholders, provinces and territories," the agency reported.

Health Canada is accepting comments until Feb. 5, 2019, on the proposal.

"I am deeply concerned by the increasing availability and appeal of these beverages that are high in alcohol, and their appeal to youth. The new proposed regulations mark an important step in helping us ensure the safety of young Canadians," said Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor. "I encourage Canadians to review the proposed changes and to share their feedback."

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