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Pregnancy warning labels on alcohol now mandatory

A 20-year battle has finally ended after Australian and New Zealand Ministers voted to make it mandatory for alcohol producers to include the world’s strongest pregnancy health warning label on their products and packaging.

Dr Nicki Jackson, Executive Director of Alcohol Healthwatch thanked the 58 organisations, including HPF, and 600-plus individuals who signed an open letter urging the Ministers to vote for the best practice label.

“In the last 20 years, we have walked alongside families and practitioners calling for change,” said Dr Nicki Jackson, Executive Director of Alcohol Healthwatch.

“The world watched, and our Ministers have responded, showing leadership in doing the right thing. To our knowledge, this is the only pregnancy health warning label in the world that includes both a pictogram and specific text, with the warning heading required to be in red so that it attracts attention.”

NZ’s Food Safety Minister Damien O’Connor who voted in favour of the labels said hundreds of babies a year are born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder because of exposure to alcohol in the womb.

Hāpai te Hauora also welcomed the vote with Interim CEO, Jason Alexander saying the decision showed strong public health leadership “In a time where the world is watching New Zealand and where we’re seen as leaders in health protection as a result of our COVID-19 response, it is critically important that we continue to model best practice, and in this instance we have.

“It’s great to see our own Minister for Food Safety come out strongly in support of these warning labels. It sends a strong message that the wellbeing of New Zealanders is being taken seriously, and shows what the Living Standards Framework looks like in action ant the policy level,” said Mr Alexander.

“We need to take every action to reduce this harm,” said Mr O’Connor.

Alcohol producers have been given three years to include the labels on their products.