Canadian Packaging

UK Says Bottoms Up For Test-Tube Drinks


May 11, 2010
by Canadian Packaging Staff

Alcohol can still be sold in test-tubes containers in the U.K. following an inquiry under the Portman Group’s Code of Practice into whether this packaging causes people to drink rapidly.

A tray of Shoeyz Shots test-tube alcoholic drinks manufactured by Inatube Drinks has been deemed not to incite fast drinking according to the U.K.’s Portman Group.
Image courtesy of Inatube Drinks

The code examines the naming, packaging and promotion of alcoholic drinks, pre-packaged alcoholic drinks and the promotional activities of all drinks producers. The code also prevents drinks companies from urging consumers to drink rapidly or ‘down-in-one’.

Alcohol Focus Scotland brought complaints against four brands: Quivers by Test Tube Products Ltd.; Shot in a Tube by Shooters UK; Shoeyz Shots by Inatube Drinks, and Shootaz by Tubular Drinks Co.–all of which contain 20ml of liquid and less than 0.3 units of alcohol.

Research commissioned by the Portman Group found that although most consumers drink test-tubes ‘down-in-one’, this tended to be because of the small volume of liquid in the test-tube rather than because of the packaging itself.

David Poley, Portman Group chief executive, explains: “The Independent Complaints Panel was persuaded that this style of packaging was not causing harmful drinking. You could have ten of these test-tube drinks and still be within the Government’s recommended drinking levels. Research also showed it was the small volume of liquid rather than the test-tube packaging that caused consumers to drink the contents ‘down-in-one’.”

While the Independent Complaints Panel dismissed the complaints against the four brands under the rapid drinking rule, it did find Shootaz in breach of the Code for the “energy flavor” description on one of its test-tubes. The Panel decided that this implied that the product could enhance mental or physical performance which is disallowed under the Code.

Since the Code was introduced in 1996, over 70 drinks have been found to breach it. Retailers do not sell any product that breaks the Code until that drink’s marketing has been altered to comply with it. This sanction provides a strong commercial threat to companies, encouraging them to keep their marketing responsible.

The work of the Portman Group is funded by its eight member companies: AB InBev UK; Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands UK; Beverage Brands UK; Carlsberg UK; Molson Coors Brewing Company UK; Diageo GB; Heineken UK; Pernod Ricard UK.

The full complaint decision can be read here: BOTTOMS UP.