Fizz taken out of lemonade row

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The Independent Online
GLENDA COOPER

Brewers have bowed to consumer pressure over the labelling of alcoholic lemonade, which has been blamed for encouraging under-age drinking.

Both Merrydown and Bass who make two of the most popular brands, Two Dogs Alcoholic Lemonade and Hoopers Hooch Alcoholic Lemonade, announced yesterday that they are altering the descriptions of the brands, although critics described the changes as "minimal".

Bass will rename its drink Hoopers Hooch Alcoholic Lemon and Merrydown will now call its version Two Dogs Alcoholic Lemon Brew.

Anti-drink campaigners and consumer groups had warned that "alcopops" blur the distinction between soft drinks and alcohol. There were also fears that people might not realise that a drink labelled lemonade contained alcohol, and that it might encourage under-age drinking.

Ian Morris, Bass's communications director, said: "We still believe alcoholic lemonade to be the most precise description of this brand. However, we are not insensitive to public debate and the Hooper's Hooch brand name and positioning as an alcoholic carbonate is now so well established we can use simple fruit flavour description without danger of misleading customers."

Paul Millman, Merrydown's managing director, said: "As a responsible manufacturer Merrydown has always been concerned about under-age drinking and we wanted to take as much positive action as possible in advance of the publication of the Portman Group's voluntary code of practice."

Whitbread has also rejected the names Lemonade Bomb and Cream Soda Blast for two new alcoholic carbonates in favour of Lemon Jag and Vanilla Heist respectively.

The name changes were criticised as "minimal" by Labour's consumer spokesman, Nigel Griffiths - a vigorous critic of alcoholic soft drinks - who predicted a public backlash unless companies came up with better solutions.

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