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Bated Breath As Decision On Alcohol And Pregnancy Warning Labels Rests With Ministers

Alcohol Healthwatch is thrilled that an evidence-based pregnancy warning label may soon be visible on alcohol products sold in both New Zealand and Australia.

Following public consultation, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) have since developed a credible warning label to be signed-off by Australian and New Zealand Ministers. Ministers have 60 days to make their decision on the proposed label.

Executive Director of Alcohol Healthwatch, Dr Nicki Jackson said, “For the past eight years, we have relied on the alcohol industry to voluntarily add warning labels to their products. The result has been low uptake (particularly on products that appeal to women), labels that are miniscule in size, and with messages that only serve to confuse consumers.

“We commend FSANZ and thank the New Zealand Minister for Food Safety Hon Damien O’Connor for supporting a mandatory approach to pregnancy warnings on alcohol products. The proposed label recommended by FSANZ provides a visible, credible and consistent message regarding the serious harms from drinking during pregnancy.”

New Zealand research found that although many women stopped drinking after becoming aware of pregnancy, 23 percent continued to drink during the first trimester, dropping to 13 percent in the second and third trimesters. As there is no known safe level of alcohol use during pregnancy, it is advised that women stop drinking if they could be pregnant, are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant.

“The serious and long-term damage that alcohol causes to human development demands an effective label that is highly noticeable to consumers. This important step will protect future generations from exposure to alcohol in utero. We need to get it right, from the start,” says Dr Jackson.

“After decades of effort and commitment to get this over the line, we are pleased that the long term wellbeing of the public and unborn babies, in particular, are being prioritised.”

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