Alcoholic drinks will carry health warning labels by the end of 2008, according to public health minister Caroline Flint.

Under a voluntary agreement between the government and the drinks industry, labels on bottles and cans will state how many units of alcohol the drink contains, as well as recommended safe drinking levels. It is not yet known how many firms have agreed to take part in the scheme.

"This landmark, voluntary agreement will help people calculate, at a glance, how much they are drinking and whether they are staying within sensible drinking guidelines,” Flint told the BBC. "This is about helping people to make the right choices."