• FSANZ proposed warning label (Source: FSANZ Pregnancy warning labels on alcoholic beverages proposal P1050).
    FSANZ proposed warning label (Source: FSANZ Pregnancy warning labels on alcoholic beverages proposal P1050).
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Food forum ministers have asked Food Standards Australia New Zealand to review its draft for pregnancy warning labels on alcohol, suggesting the proposed model could place an “unreasonable cost” on the industry.

The Australian and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation met on Friday (20 March) and considered the proposed amendment by FSANZ, which suggested a mandatory warning label in red, white and black.

Brewers Association of Australia CEO Brett Heffernan said Australia’s major brewers support the move to mandate pregnancy warning labels but it must be workable.

Since 2011, the alcohol industry has implemented a voluntary pregnancy warning labelling scheme.
Since 2011, the alcohol industry has implemented a voluntary pregnancy warning labelling scheme.

“Our members, covering some 90 per cent 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.”

Heffernan said for Carlton & United Breweries, Lion and Coopers, one colour change under the model could potentially cost the brewers $30 million, while FSANZ “have sought to mandate three colours”.

The forum ministers have requested that the FSANZ review is “undertaken quickly” and to notify the forum within three months.

The new forum meeting is scheduled for 22 May, where ministers will also present the finalised implementation plan to the reviewed Health Star Rating System.

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