Although product labelling is, obviously, an issue that many closely associate with health-related topics, only rarely are companies and governments forced to confront this particular topic in the wake of serious tragedies, such as that which recently occurred in Australia. After consuming three shots of Spirytus Rektyfikowany, a 95% proof alcoholic beverage, a local teenager died from alcohol poisoning. This is not the only instance in which Spirytus Rektyfikowany has been linked to fatalities. Another teenager, Nicole Bicknell, collapsed and died after consuming a single shot of this beverage during her 18th birthday celebrations.
The issue that critics of both this product and labelling conventions as a whole argue that consumers of Spirytus Rektyfikowany are unaware how much alcohol is actually present in one 500ml bottle of the beverage. According to experts, the standard bottling size of Spirytus Rektyfikowany contains the equivalent alcoholic content of 38 standard drinks. Some have claimed that the lack of English labelling on the bottle makes it much easier for individuals to accidentally consume this beverage “neat”, a term commonly used to describe non-mixed spirits.
As can be seen, those who do opt to imbibe Spirytus Rektyfikowany “neat” are meeting with tragic ends. Rachel Wilcock, a member of Lancashire’s Trading Standards, responded to this growing concern in the UK, stating, “An abv of 95% is simply too strong an alcohol to be drunk neat, as a shot drink…We suspect the product may not have adequate labelling, i.e. not having instructions for use in English, and therefore poses a hazard to people who consume it neat.”
Drinks labels conventions can, of course, only accomplish so much. Although changes to labelling standards for Spirytus Rektyfikowany may result in fewer fatalities due to overcon-sumption, a more comprehensive examination of alcoholic beverage labelling may be in or-der to ensure that beverage consumers have the information they need to make responsible purchasing and consumption decisions. Until then, however, UK trade officials and beverage retailers are urging customers to act responsibly and avoid excessive consumption of prod-ucts such as Spirytus Rektyfikowany which could have drastic consequences related to their overall health. As a general rule of thumb : always check drinks labels in order to ensure that you know exactly what you are consuming!