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Aussie government votes on mandatory alcohol labelling

Aussie government votes on mandatory alcohol labelling

State and federal government ministers have voted to make warning stickers mandatory on alcohol.

This will require all alcoholic beverages to display clear warnings on their products stating that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption for pregnant women.

No timeline has been set for the change but ministers want it to “expeditiously”.

AMA president Tony Bartone had called for "clear and precise, significant front-of-label warnings" to address the high incidence of drinking among pregnant women.

"Too many women are unaware of the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant or trying to conceive," Dr Bartone said.

DrinkWise has developed consumer information messages for alcohol labels to assist Australian consumers to better understand the facts about alcohol consumption.

Dr Bartone says they don't go far enough to address the issue. 

"At the moment under the voluntary code, those small labels that are currently present on some of the products - not all of the products - are still not getting the intended message across," Dr Bartone said.

"We need to be very clear that the effects, things like neurodevelopmental abnormality associated with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder are significant ... and also can have effects in the offspring of the children involved."

However, DrinkWise notes: "Australia’s major alcohol producers and retailers collaborated with DrinkWise to produce messaging that would help consumers enjoy alcohol with more responsibility and care. The alcohol producers who contribute to DrinkWise account for approximately 80% of all alcohol sales by volume in Australia."

The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation, made up of health and primary industry ministers representing the Commonwealth, states and territories and New Zealand, are meeting to discuss how they will tackle the issue.

Alcohol Beverages Australia executive director Fergus Taylor said awareness was already "very high under the current system" and that policies to address alcohol consumption during pregnancy "should instead be targeted measures that encourage and support those who are still not changing their behaviour".