Health ministers introduce ‘no-brainer’ alcohol labels

Australian and New Zealand Health Ministers have made it mandatory for alcohol brands to have warning labels on their products about the dangers of drinking while pregnant.

Despite there being no official date for introduction, it’s hoped the new rules will come into effect within the next 12 months.

The decision

According to Brewers Association of Australia CEO, Brett Heffernan, the decision was a ‘no-brainer’ – particularly as companies have been encouraged to introduce warning labels since 2012.

“We fully expected this outcome,” Mr. Heffernan said.

“We are perplexed as to why others in the industry failed to heed the writing on the wall since 2012. The three major brewers got the job done, across hundreds of products labels, in just two years.”

“Governments expected the industry would bear the warnings on all products… not just some or even most.”

Only 75 per cent of companies comply to warnings of their products, despite two federal government surveys and six years of voluntary labelling.

“In the end, Federal and State Ministers have been left with no choice but to mandate pregnancy warning labels,” Mr. Heffernan said.

The importance of mandatory warning labels

Many members of the health industry have commended the decision, including AMA president Tony Bartone.

“Too many women are unaware of the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant or trying to conceive,” Dr Bartone said.

“We need to be very clear that the effects, things like neurodevelopmental abnormality associated with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder are significant… and also can have effects in the offspring of the children involved.”

Other complications associated with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder include:

  • Small head size
  • Shorter-than-average height
  • Poor coordination
  • Learning disabilities
  • Vision or hearing problems.