India: Health Warnings on Alcohol Bottles
All alcohol bottles in India will carry mandatory health warnings from April 1st, 2019. These statutory warnings on the labels will include requests to consumers to not consume alcohol and drive and outline how alcohol consumption is harmful for health.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), issued a notification on the mandatory warnings on March 19, 2018, directing alcoholic beverage manufacturers to include in their labels the health warning “Consumption of alcohol is injurious to health” and a warning against driving under the influence of alcohol. The warnings are to be printed in all capitals. For alcohol bottles up to 200ml the letters should be at least 1.5mm tall and for alcohol bottles containing over 200ml letters must be 3mm tall.
The FSSAI had standards drawn for toddy in 2011, and decided to implement standards for other alcoholic beverages with the rising consumption of imported and Indian manufactured alcohol in the country.
The new standardization which is called the Food Safety and Standards (Alcoholic Beverages Standards) Regulation, 2018, is applicable on distilled alcoholic beverages (brandy, country liquor, gin, rum, vodka and whisky, liqueur or alcoholic cordial), wines, and beer. Beyond the warning, the labeling requirements include, a declaration about alcohol content, allergen warning, no nutritional data, no health claim, restriction on words such as “non-intoxicating” or words implying similar meaning on the label of any beverage containing more than 0.5% alcohol by volume.
Alcohol Policy in India
In India, the vast majority of the population abstain from alcohol use. However, consumption of alcohol is high comparative to the WHO South East Asian region. This is specifically true of the male alcohol consumers. The resulting harm is a comparatively high number of Indian men suffering from alcohol use disorders and alcohol dependence in the region.
With years of life lost ranging towards the higher end, implementing policy interventions to curtail alcohol harm is of key importance for India. In this view, the new health warnings implemented by FSSAI is a step in the right direction in protecting people from alcohol harm, in the country.