Submission in response to WFA application A1026: Minimum alcohol content for wine

FARE and the Public Health Association of Australia’s joint submission to Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) regarding an application by the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) to lower the regulated minimum alcohol content of wine, raises concerns about these products claiming to be lower in alcohol (despite having the same or higher alcohol content as full strength beer) and making any positive health claims (such as being low or lower in calories).

Recommendations

In order to guard against adverse outcomes, FSANZ needs to tighten the regulations contained within Standard 2.7.1 of the Food Standards Code in two ways.

  1. Clause 4 of Standard 2.7.1 should be extended to specify that alcohol producers cannot either suggest or imply that their product is low in alcohol unless the product contains less than 1.15% alcohol by volume. This would prohibit not only the use of the term low, but also any interpretation of the word low, such as ‘lower’ alcohol.
  2. A clause is added to Standard 2.7.1 that prohibits the labelling of alcoholic beverages above 1.15% alcohol by volume from containing language that may be interpreted as a positive health claim. This clause would be in line with a similar resolution adopted by the European Parliament.

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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