Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Misleading recommendations

Safe drinking units are
based on unsound data

The government's new drive against binge drinking is based on totally unscientific data about "units of alcohol". It has been the "wisdom" since the 1980s that a half pint of beer equals one unit of alcohol and drinkers should restrict themselves to around 20 units a week or run the risk of serious health problems. Yet a few months ago one of the people who drew up the list of units back in the 1980s admitted that the figures have no scientific basis and were "plucked out the air" at the time.
Yet the government's new campaign still uses the same number of units. The recommended number of units are quite useless where beer is concerned: a half pint of Dark Mild at 3% is a different beast to a 8% "head banger" strong lager.
I am all in favour of moderate drinking -- I am renowned as a figure of great moderation -- but if the government wants people to take its campaign seriously then it really need to present us with up-to-date and scientifically-based information about what constitutes "safe drinking" levels.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Scottish & Newcastle

Blood money as Heineken takes over in Edinburgh

Jeremy Blood has been confirmed as managing director of Heineken's British operations following the takeover on 29 April of the country's biggest brewer by Carlsberg and Heineken. Blood was director of corporate affairs for S&N and he will run the company from the existing offices in Edinburgh. The group will continue to be known as S&N for the time being.
As a result of the takeover, Carlsberg will acquire S&N's 50% stake in Baltic Beverages Holding, the biggest brewing group in Russia, and will also control S&N's investments in China and Vietnam. Carlsberg will further own Kronenbourg in France, the country's biggest beer brand.
In Britain, Kronenbourg, which is brewed under licence, will become a Heineken brand. Jeremy Blood was quick to quash rumours that the brand might disappear as it was seen as a competitor to Heineken. "Kronenbourg has been brewed under licence for 50 years and will continue to be a major brand," he said. He also ended speculation that Heineken would be brewed in Britain and stressed that it would remain an imported brand.
What is missing from Blood's statement is any reference to S&N's ale interests, which are centred on John Smith's in Tadcaster, Yorkshire. John Smith's Bitter, mainly in its "nitro-keg" form, remains a massive brand but the entire Tadcaster operation will have a cloud over it until Heineken makes its intentions clear. The Campaign for Real Ale is seeking urgent talks with Jeremy Blood to discuss Heineken's attitude to its ale brands.