Food safety Ministers are being urged to put the health and wellbeing of families and communities first by approving the most effective pregnancy health warning label on alcohol products when they meet in July 2020.

Health and community groups commend the recommendation by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) that a pregnancy health warning label with three colours – black, white and red – is most effective and will achieve the greatest impact. “In particular, the use of red makes the label easily identifiable to the eye and conveys a message of warning to the community that alcohol use in pregnancy causes harm,” said Professor Elizabeth Elliott, Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Sydney and Co-Director of FASD Australia, the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence.

FSANZ has amended the signal wording on the label from ‘Health Warning’ to ‘Pregnancy Warning’ and this narrowing of audience focus has disappointed the health and community groups advocating for an evidence-based label. (Read the FSANZ review report here). CEO of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education Caterina Giorgi says, “For years, the alcohol lobby, funded by large alcohol corporations, have campaigned for policymakers and Ministers to block an effective pregnancy health warning on alcohol products, citing cost arguments that have been shown to be incorrect.

NOFASD Australia CEO Louise Gray says the alcohol industry should accept responsibility for its products and provide a clear warning about the risks of alcohol use in pregnancy. “FASD is caused only by alcohol. It is right that alcohol companies provide an honest health warning label on their products to help reduce the instances of this lifelong condition,” Ms Gray said.

On 17 July, Ministers on the Forum on Food Regulation will make their decision on whether to endorse the FSANZ label and Ms Giorgi is urging Ministers to listen to the community above the alcohol lobby and support an effective pregnancy health warning. “The majority of Australians want an effective pregnancy health warning label on alcohol products, and more than 1,500 individuals and 150 organisations across Australia and New Zealand have recently signed Open Letters calling for Ministers to do the right thing for future generations,” Ms Giorgi said. 

Sign the open letter urging ministers to support the pregnancy health warning label

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