FARE submission in relation to pregnancy warning labels on packaged alcoholic beverages

On 11 October 2018 the Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation for Australia and New Zealand decided to mandate the application of pregnancy warning labels on all packaged alcohol products.

In 2018, ahead of the Ministerial decision, the Food Regulation Standards Committee on behalf of the Australian and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation, undertook a targeted consultations on two policy options for pregnancy warning labels, a voluntary approach (option 1 a-c) or a mandatory approach (option 2). The objectives were two-fold, the primary objective being: “to provide a clear and easy to understand trigger to remind pregnant women, at both the point of sale and the potential point of consumption, that it is best not to drink alcohol whilst pregnant. The secondary objective was that: “pregnancy warning labels on packaged alcoholic beverages is to provide information to the community about the risks of pregnant women drinking alcohol.

FARE’s submission to this targeted consultation highlights that only a mandatory approach (option 2) would achieve the objectives as outlined in the consultation paper.

Pregnancy warning labels can be considered to be effective if they:

  1. attract the attention of pregnant women and their support network;
  2. convey a clear, easy to understand message;
  3. are recalled by consumers;
  4. influence consumer judgement of product hazards; and
  5. influence behaviour of pregnant women and/or their support network.”

A mandatory approach is the only option that can provide the coverage, consistency, prominence, and comprehension required for the warning label to be effective.

FARE supports policy reforms that contribute to a reduction in alcohol-related harms in Australia. Our policy work is informed by the evidence of what is most effective in reducing alcohol-related harms. We support the progression of population-based health measures, which take into consideration the far reaching and complex impacts of alcohol-related harms.

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