DrinkWise has promoted the National Health and Medical Research Council’s alcohol guideline that It’s safest not to drink while pregnant for many years via alcohol product labels, retail point-of-sale and within medical clinics. DrinkWise developed these consumer information messages for alcohol labels to assist Australian consumers to better understand the facts about alcohol consumption.
Incorporating these messages on alcohol labels enables DrinkWise to talk directly to consumers. The messages encourage consumers to ‘Get the Facts’ from the DrinkWise website – where they can find evidence-based information about alcohol, to support them in taking a healthier and safer approach to alcohol consumption.
DrinkWise advocacy for the inclusion of the pregnancy messaging on alcohol labels has seen the majority of alcohol products sold feature the logo or message and over 700 additional downloads of the logo by industry participants since early 2018. DrinkWise supports measures that increase awareness of the message that it’s safest not to drink while pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding and will continue to use broad and targeted education initiatives to increase awareness of that important health advice.
In October 2018, the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (the Forum) met and agreed that: “a mandatory labelling standard for pregnancy warning labels on packaged alcoholic beverages should be developed and should include a pictogram and relevant warning statement. The Forum requested Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) develop this mandatory labelling standard as a priority and that the work be completed expeditiously.
The Forum recognised the efforts of a large segment of the sector, including many small businesses, in voluntarily adopting pregnancy labelling. In recognition of these efforts, the Forum called for comprehensive consultation and appropriate transition timelines and stock-in-trade exemptions on new arrangements.”
On 20 March 2020, the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation provided an update on the mandatory labelling process:
Since 2011, the alcohol industry has implemented a voluntary pregnancy warning labelling scheme. The Forum considered the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) notification regarding the proposed amendment to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) to require a pregnancy warning label on packaged alcoholic beverages sold in Australia and New Zealand (Proposal P1050).
In considering the Proposal, the Forum recognised the significant impacts of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in Australia and New Zealand, which can be prevented if women abstain from alcohol during pregnancy.
The Forum maintains its commitment to a mandatory pregnancy warning label to ensure women and the broader community are aware of the need for pregnant women to not drink alcohol.
The Forum requested FSANZ review the draft standard for pregnancy warning labels noting that the proposed model places an unreasonable cost burden on industry. In undertaking the review, Ministers requested FSANZ to consider the colour requirements of the label and the signal wording. Ministers requested that this review be undertaken quickly and be notified to the Forum within three months.
The next Forum meeting is scheduled to be held on 22 May 2020 – DrinkWise will provide an update on this page once further information is available. For more details about this process, please visit the FSANZ website.
DrinkWise encourages producers to retain the Get the facts DrinkWise.org.au message on alcohol products and packaging. Retaining this message provides consumers with a reminder and a call to action, ensuring they have timely access to evidence-based information about their alcohol consumption. The DrinkWise website includes a standard drinks calculator, body health tool, contact details for a range of referral services and evidence-based information to help moderate and manage their consumption. For further information about the DrinkWise logos, please go here.