SASKATOON – Cheers, to our health! In a Canadian first, a Saskatoon micro-distillery is taking an extra step to inform its customers about the benefits of drinking alcohol in moderation.
Lucky Bastard Distillers has taken a progressive approach in creating a new label that informs people of Canada’s Low Risk Drinking Guidelines (LRDGs) and communicates the number of standard drinks in each bottle.
“Honestly, I think our customers are no good to us if they are dead or in jail,” said LB Distillers owner Michael Goldney.
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In a previous career, Goldney was a family physician and says he witnessed firsthand how over indulgence can lead otherwise intelligent people to make poor decisions and end up requiring medical care.
“I think the industry has done a terrible job in promoting a culture of moderation,” said Goldney.
“There has been great progress in changing public attitudes about drinking and driving and we really should be proud of that. However, that really is just a part of responsible drinking and if we are serious about protecting the health and well-being of our customers we could easily do more.”
The Saskatchewan Prevention Institute says LB Distillers is the first in Canada to voluntarily put the national LRDGs on one of its products – “Haskap Gin.”
Goldney got the idea from a workshop hosted by the institute that focused on moving towards promoting consumption of spirits in moderation.
The institute says the guidelines help customers make informed decisions about standard drink sizes. When people follow them, they can reduce short- and long-term health risks.
The LRDGs also lay out recommendations for maximum weekly drink amounts for men, women, and young people.
Goldney says there are all kinds of reasons why the alcohol industry hasn’t embraced standard drink labels.
“There is resistance about educating people that beer, wine and spirits all have similar alcohol quantities in standard drinks because they are taxed at different rates,” said Goldney.
“This may lead some to ask why they are taxed differently and obviously some producers don’t want that. Additionally, some producers know that a good percentage of their sales come from a small percentage of problem drinkers and worry about adversely impacting sales.”
Rita Notarandrea co-chaired the National Alcohol Strategy Advisory Committee which developed the evidence-based guidelines.
“We encourage more alcohol manufacturers to provide consumer education on standard drinks and to add this information to their labels,” said Notarandrea.
The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) said Tuesday that LB Distillers has taken the initiative to undertake additional self-report measures by implementing this new labelling and commends them for it.
The new labels will be applied to all of the Saskatoon distillery’s future products. LB Distillers is located at 1925 Ave. B North and opened for business in May 2012.