The Food Standards Agency's plan to draw the alcohol industry into the obesity debate has been slammed by manufacturers as ridiculous and potentially damaging to the responsible drinking message.

At a board meeting this week, the FSA agreed a set of recommendations for Department of Health ministers that could pave the way for front-of-pack calorie labels on BWS.

The FSA claimed 7% of a person's total energy intake was derived from alcohol, which compared with 9% from potatoes and savoury snacks. "Declaring energy content of alcoholic drinks could complement the work of DH on raising awareness of the public health issues related to alcohol consumption," said a spokesman. "We recommend putting energy at the very least on front of packs."

However, The Portman Group said an additional label could distract consumers from considering unit intake. "We don't want consumers to neglect the responsible drinking message and build in alcohol as part of some health fad," said head of communications Michael Thomspon. "I understand what the FSA is saying, but there's so much confusion about what is safe. This could add to it."

One lager brand owner said current drinks labels were "ridiculous and verging on information overload". "How much more information does the government want us to squeeze on?" he said. "We have sensible drinking messages, abv, number of units and legal information. The industry is bringing out lighter versions, so people already have a choice."

Wine brand Ehrmanns said it was aware calorific content was an issue and was working to address it. Last month, it launched Blue Nun Heavenly, which is lower in alcohol at 9% abv with 77 calories per 125ml glass. "Where wines are naturally lower in alcohol and calories, we will draw attention to this on the front label," said a spokeswoman.

Thompson said brands would have to tread a fine line between linking calorie content and health.