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:
- attract the attention of pregnant women and their support network;
- convey a clear, easy to understand message;
- are recalled by consumers;
- influence consumer judgement of product hazards; and
- 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.