After alcopops, anger over pinta with a punch

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The Independent Online
After alcopops comes the latest, most unlikely drink to tempt the nation's youth and adults - alcoholic milk. Campaigners are calling for Moo and Super Milch, milk drinks containing more alcohol than the average pint of bitter, to be banned on the grounds that they may appeal to children.

Strawberry and banana flavours of Moo are already available in pubs in the Oxfordshire area, and the drink, which is 5 per cent by volume, will soon be sold nationwide with chocolate and ice-coffee versions to follow.

The pressure group Alcohol Concern and Labour's consumer affairs spokesman, Nigel Griffiths ,yesterday called for the drinks to be withdrawn amid concern that they will prove even more popular with teenagers and children than the controversial alcopops.

Super Milch comes in three flavours - chocolate orange, strawberry and banana - and is an "alcoholic vodka milk shake". Its alcohol content is even stronger than Moo.

"It beggars belief," said Mark Bennett of Alcohol Concern. "Milk is a healthy drink you associate with pouring on cornflakes and we are extremely concerned about this. It is wholly irresponsible and really quite shocking. The very nature of the drinks is cause for concern. To spike milkshakes - which are a drink for children - with alcohol will inevitably lead to even more under-age drinking."

Moo - made with semi-skimmed rather than full-fat milk - is currently only sold in pubs but En-Toute-Caisse, the company marketing the drink, is hopeful it will soon be available in off-licences and supermarkets. "We are launching nationally, but we have been very careful and we have spent a long time trying to be as responsible as possible with the packaging," said Tom Bettle, one of the firm's directors.

"Alcohol is mentioned three times on the bottle. Nobody could think it is not alcoholic and it is up to the sellers to make sure it is not bought by children."

Trevon Beadle, landlord of the Mason's Arms in Swerford, near Chipping Norton, has been selling Moo, which costs pounds 2.20 a bottle, for nearly two weeks, and he said it was proving very popular. "It is very more-ish, and it has a bit of a kick in the tail," he explained.

Customer John O'Sullivan said: "It's too nice a drink, it goes down too nicely. The only worry I would have is my 13-year-old daughter having a couple of them. Straight away you've got a taste for it."

Nick Tegerdine, of the Nottingham-based Alcohol Problems Advisory Service, said he was concerned about the new concoction. "The sweetness will disguise the alcohol, which normally puts youngsters off," he said. "Most young people find the taste [of alcohol] unpleasant at first, but we are seeing more and more younger people turning up at hospital completely out of it. Alcoholic milk can only make the situation worse. It's a cynical attempt to exploit the market."

Dr Bill O'Neill, of the British Medical Association, said the drink was "a further example of the drinks industry's blatant disregard for the health of our children. Who can this drink be aimed at, if not young people?"

A spokesman for the Portman Group, the watchdog set up by the drinks industry, said he regarded the drinks as "questionable".

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