FSANZ sent back to pregnancy warning drawing board
20 March 2020
COMMON sense has prevailed over the bureaucratic frolic that had been Food Standards Australia and New Zealand's (FSANZ's) draft recommendations on pregnancy warning labels on all alcohol products.
"Food Forum Ministers today brought the bureaucrats back to reality by rejecting their draft recommendations and instructing FSANZ to go back to the drawing board," Brewers Association of Australia CEO Brett Heffernan said today.
"Australia's major brewers support the move to mandate pregnancy warning labels. In fact, we publicly recognised the need to mandate in October 2018 when Ministers first made the decision. But it must be workable.
"Our members, covering some 90% of all beer sales in Australia, embraced pregnancy warning labelling from the get-go. They applied the now familiar pictogram of a pregnant woman with a glass and a line through her silhouette, on every label they have produced since 2014.
"But FSANZ's bid to mandate colours as well – specifically red, white and black – ignores all practical measures to sensibly shift to mandatory labelling and has sought to impose the largest possible cost option on consumers.
"Applying three mandated colours, instead of the prevailing contrast requirements consistent with the Food Code, would set an unnecessary and pointless precedent costing punters an extra $400 million, with more ongoing costs to facilitate the reprinting of the more expensive labels.
"For consumers of beers provided by the three major brewers (CUB, Lion and Coopers), the additional costs of just one colour change under the FSANZ model would, conservatively, be $30 million. They've sought to mandate three colours.
"It is also clear that FSANZ had strayed a long way from its bureaucratic bailiwick in trying to recast the pregnancy warning as a health warning.
"Surely the purpose of the pictogram and message is to draw the attention of pregnant women and women trying to get pregnant, therefore, pregnancy warning would be a more focused and relevant option.
"Mandating colours and wandering into health warning signals are simply over-reach by FSANZ. They are petty and punitive measures without practical purpose and have, quite rightly, been sent back for revision."
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