Community urges ministers to vote for effective pregnancy health warning on alcohol labels
The most important thing to Australians is family and community, which is why peoples’ health and wellbeing should be central to all policymaking.
On 17 July, Ministers responsible for food safety regulation in Australia and New Zealand have the opportunity to set policy that will reduce alcohol harm during pregnancy and improve health outcomes for unborn children.
Prenatal alcohol exposure can cause miscarriage, stillbirth and babies born with lifelong brain and organ injury called Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
However, Australians continue to receive conflicting messages about the harm that alcohol products cause during pregnancy and this leads to low levels of awareness about the risks.
A quarter of the population are unaware that alcohol is harmful during pregnancy, 30 per cent unaware of the link with FASD and among the age group most likely to be thinking about having babies (25-34 years) more than one-in-three are unaware that no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy.
To increase awareness of the risks, government is introducing a new pregnancy health warning label on all alcohol products.
The regulator for food safety, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), has designed an effective pregnancy health warning label, based on extensive research and consultation. Ministers have until July 17 to consider the FSANZ recommendation.
The proposed red, black and white health warning clearly alerts the community to the harm from alcohol during pregnancy, and the risks to the unborn child. The warning is supported by community and health groups who are urging the Ministers to confirm the FSANZ label.
The alcohol industry’s lobby groups remain opposed to a clear, visible pregnancy health warning and are pushing for the label to be watered down — for it to use words with less cut through and to remove required colours, which would make it invisible.
The alcohol industry should accept responsibility for its products and not get in the way of government providing a clear warning about the risks of alcohol use in pregnancy.
Community and health organisations are seeking support to help raise awareness about this critical upcoming Ministerial vote, and are encouraging individuals and groups to add their voice to an Open Letter campaign in support of the FSANZ label.
The message to Ministers is clear; to listen to the community above the alcohol industry lobby and support an effective pregnancy health warning label.