Declaring war on that beer belly? Top European brews to show calorie counts

BRUSSELS (AFP) - Beer drinkers in Europe will soon be able to find out the calorie count on their drinks after four of the world's biggest brewers said Thursday that they will list the information.

Carlsberg, Heineken, AB Inbev and SABMiller have all backed the plan, said the Brewers of Europe, a trade association representing more than 5,000 brewers.

They said the move will show beer is not necessarily the waist-expanding drink it is thought to be, and allow consumers to compare calories with wine and spirits.

"We want Europe's consumers to know the ingredients in beer and how these beers can fit within a balanced lifestyle," Brewers of Europe chief Pierre-Olivier Bergeron said.

"Brewers already label the alcohol content on their beer brands. But we also agree with consumer groups that citizens would benefit from having access to the ingredients and nutrition information, allowing them to compare like-for-like facts with all the other beverages available to them, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic." The group did not give a timeline for the new labelling.

Spokesman Simon Spillane said the perception of consumers "is worse than the reality" when it comes to determining how many calories beer contains.

The group published a table comparing calories in 100 millilitres of various drinks: 245 kilocalories for whisky, 82 kcl for red wine and 46 kcl for beer containing 4.5 percent or 5.5 percent alcohol. The latter is the same as a fresh orange juice.

The spirits industry said the brewers' move was misleading and also undermined messages about responsible drinking.

"While 100 ml is usually a fraction of the amount of beer a person might consume in one serving, it can equal to three servings of spirits: the maximum daily recommendation for men and beyond what is recommended for women," industry group SpiritsEurope said.