NAAA applauds Ministers for ensuring that a clear, visible and honest health warning appears on alcohol products

The National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) congratulates Ministers on the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation for mandating an effective health warning label on alcohol products to discourage alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

NAAA Co-Chair Jane Martin said, “We congratulate Ministers for approving what the evidence shows to be the most effective pregnancy warning label. In doing so, they have played their part in delivering a responsible reform that will reduce the number of children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and puts the health of babies ahead of the commercial interests of alcohol companies.

“The label incorporates an eye-catching combination of red, white and black and uses the words ‘Pregnancy Warning’ sending a strong message to the community that alcohol use in pregnancy causes harm.

“The fact is, there is no safe level of alcohol use in pregnancy. Alcohol is the only cause of FASD (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder), a devastating, lifelong disability for which there is no cure. It also causes miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, birth defects and developmental problems.

“Despite this, alcohol companies have not been required to place a standard health warning on all products. The decision to mandate an effective label ensures people have access to clear information about the effect alcohol can have on unborn babies from July 2023. Recent polling shows that 95 per cent of Australians agree that people have a right to know that drinking alcohol whilst pregnant can cause lifelong harm to an unborn baby.”

The decision has strong support, with the visible health warning campaign supported by 165 organisations and 4,000 community advocates and leaders.

NAAA calls on Ministers to vote for a clear, visible and honest health warning on alcohol products this Friday

The National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) is calling on Ministers on the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation to put the health and wellbeing of children first by approving the most effective pregnancy health warning label on alcohol products when they meet on Friday.

NAAA commends Foods Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) for recommending that a pregnancy health warning label with three colours – red, black and white – as being the most effective and urges Ministers to vote for this label.

The alcohol industry continues to aggressively resist the introduction of effective pregnancy health warning labels on alcohol products.

NAAA Co-Chair Jane Martin said, “Watering down the warning colours from red, black and white would make the warning virtually invisible.”

“Yet again we are seeing the alcohol industry is placing commercial interests ahead of the health and wellbeing of our children by actively campaigning for a weakened pregnancy warning label.”

“We are also disappointed that FSANZ has amended the label’s signal wording from ‘Health Warning’ to ‘Pregnancy Warning’ as this narrows the audience.

“Alcohol is the only cause of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). This is a devastating, lifelong condition that can be prevented when women are aware of the risks of drinking while pregnant, and supported by their families, friends and the broader community to have alcohol free pregnancies.”

FSANZ conservatively estimated the health-related cost of FASD across Australia and New Zealand to be A$27.6 billion over 20 years. Just over 1 per cent of FASD cases need to be prevented to offset the total cost of label changes.

“Half of all pregnancies in Australia are unplanned, making the risk of alcohol exposure very high; yet a quarter of Australians don’t know that drinking during pregnancy is harmful.

“FASD is the leading cause of preventable developmental disability in Australia. The alcohol industry does not want a clear and effective health warning label because it does not want people to know about the real risks of alcohol use during pregnancy.”