Pregnancy warning labels a 'no-brainer', say Brewers
11 October 2018
TODAY'S decision by the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation to mandate pregnancy warning labelling for all packaged alcohol products comes as no surprise, according to Brewers Association of Australia CEO Brett Heffernan.
"While it is disappointing that mandating pregnancy labelling for all packaged alcohol products is necessary, today's decision by Ministers is a no-brainer. We fully expected this outcome," Mr Heffernan said.
"Our members – Carlton & United Breweries, Lion Beer Australia and Coopers Brewery – have been 100% compliant with the voluntarily labelling regime since 2014, applying the warning pictogram across every product they produce.
"We are perplexed as to why others in the industry failed to heed the writing on the wall since 2012. The three major brewers got the job done, across hundreds of product labels, in just two years.
"After six years of voluntary pregnancy labelling and two federal government surveys to measure uptake, the best the alcohol industry could muster was 75% compliance. Clearly, that's nowhere near good enough.
"Governments expected that industry would bear the warnings on all products... not just some or even most. In the end, Federal and State Ministers have been left with no choice but to mandate pregnancy warning labels.
"We will work with all governments and stakeholders to ensure the existing DrinkWise Australia warning pictogram warnings, which are demonstrably well-recognised and understood, are adopted as the mandatory label.
"DrinkWise Australia research shows that 74% of those of childbearing age, 18-40, are aware of the warnings (including 89% aged 18-24 and 80% aged 25-30), while 82% of all aged 18-40 comprehend the meaning of the current pictogram warnings.
"By mandating the existing warning label graphics, governments ensure that those who have failed to comply to date are dragged into the fold, while recognising that those who have done the right thing should not be penalised by having to change all of their labels a second time.
"Perversely, a new regime that varies from the existing labelling would reward recalcitrance."
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