Photo: Elain Thompson Associated Press
The character sweetened and flavored the drink completely mask the taste of alcohol, giving the impression of drinking the juice.
Pressed from all sides for months now, Ottawa has to be tough on sweet alcoholic drinks sold to the unit. If their alcohol content may be limited, agencies in public health consider this restriction to be insufficient to protect Canadian youth.
“It is extremely disappointing, it is a half-measure that does not go far enough to make a difference. Nothing about advertising, nothing on the packaging and, especially, why not limit a can to a glass of alcohol standard, as we had recommended ? ” says the director general of éduc’alcool, Hubert Sacy.
In the last year, two Quebeckers have lost their lives after consuming this type of beverages with high alcohol content, which has alerted Health Canada. After nine months of consultations, the federal agency announced Tuesday want to change the Rules of the food and drugs act to reduce the amount of alcohol in the drinks-alcoholic, which can currently contain up to four glasses of alcohol standards. Their alcohol content would thus be limited to the equivalent of a consumption-and-a-half, like for beer or cider. The allowed amount would be increased according to the quantity. For example, a can of 568 ml could only contain 4.5% alcohol, while consumption of 355 ml could rise up to 7.2 %.
This measure will apply to all products packaged in containers of one liter or less, re-sealable or not. An exception will be made for containers of glass, of 750 ml or more — such as bottles of wine, since they ” are normally used to products servings multiples.
Published in the Canada Gazette on Saturday, these rules will be subject to a 45-day public comment and could enter into force in the spring of 2019.
Health Canada says it is concerned by the growing popularity of these sugary drinks with high alcohol content which, in the case of abuse, may pose a risk to public health and especially young people. “Research has shown that these products […] are associated with hospital admissions due to overconsumption of unintended or excessive consumption of alcohol among young people “. In effect, the character sweetened and flavored the drink mask the taste of alcohol, giving the impression of drinking the juice.
But according to the organization éduc’alcool, the government does not go far enough in limiting simply the alcohol content to 1.5 standard glass rather than a glass, as suggested by several organizations.
The Association pour la santé publique du Québec (ASPQ) shares this opinion. “In the minds of consumers, one can is equivalent to a standard drink. A woman who drinks two cans exceeds without realizing the number of alcoholic drinks recommended per day, or two, ” emphasizes Émilie Dansereau-Trahan, a specialist of content of psychoactive substances in the ASPQ.
She regrets that no measures have been taken to regulate their prices “more than ridiculous,” which becomes a strong incentive to purchase.
Réal Morin of the national Institute of public health of Quebec abounds in the same direction. “It is necessary to prevent the companies to lower their prices, whereas there is less alcohol in it. It would be too attractive, especially for young people “. If he is pleased to see the federal government take the matter in hand, it is estimated that decreasing the alcohol content is only a ” avenue that doesn’t solve the whole problem. “
The way in which the product is presented and marketed is also a major issue, in the eyes of Hubert Sacy, éduc’alcool. Packaging, lettering, labeling, or advertising, any of the product comes mainly apply to young people. “The absence of any action [in this regard] is not only a disappointment, but a real danger to this vulnerable clientele, he argues. It is difficult to understand, nearly a year after the death of Athena Gervais. “
On the government side, it indicates that the price of these beverages does not depend on the ministry of Health. As for the ads, they could be more framed in the renewal of the canadian Strategy on drugs and other substances in the spring of 2019, the folder is still being discussed within the different departments concerned.
Lives at least
If Health Canada recalled Tuesday, the case of Pierre Parent, a Quebec 30 years who passed away in December 2017 after having consumed four cans of Four Loko — a drink whose alcohol content is 11.9 %, combined with alcohol, caffeine and drugs, it is the death of a teenage girl in quebec last march and it has really sounded the alarm from the political class and the rest of the population.
Athena Gervais, 14 years old, had been found deceased in a creek at Laval in march. The coroner has not yet made its report, but she would have died after having consumed an alcoholic beverage and sweetness of the brand FCKDUP, according to witnesses. A can of this beverage was then sold for less than $ 4 at convenience stores in a format of 568 ml containing 11.9 per cent of alcohol.
Shortly after the death of the young girl, the groupe Geloso in Laval, had announced the cessation of production of the drink in question. The producer of the american version of Four Loko has also indefinitely suspended its distribution in Quebec.
Two weeks after the tragedy, the government of Québec has announced the removal of sugar-sweetened beverages with a high alcohol content of the shelves of the shops. The act 170, enacted in June, prohibits the sale of mixtures with a beer of over 7% in convenience stores and grocery stores. Only the Société des alcools du Québec is authorized to sell this type of drink, but she declined the offer.
There remains, however, that many of these cans — even if they have less than 7 % of alcohol — are still on the shelves so that they would never have had to be there, ” insists Mr. Ycas.