Australia: Big Alcohol Delays Pregnancy Warning Labels (Again)
Big Alcohol again delays implementing pregnancy warning labels as proposed by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) with more excuses about cost and “label contrast”.
The proposed label by FSANZ shows a silhouette of a pregnant woman with the wording “HEALTH WARNING: Any amount of alcohol can harm your baby” in black and red text on a white background. This label was found be the most effective in conveying the risk of alcohol use during pregnancy according to research.
Since February when the new label was proposed by FSANZ Big Alcohol has been fighting aggressively against implementing it.
The first the argument was the claim that the new label was “confusing”.
The second argument in opposition of the health warning label was the claim that it was “too costly”.
Now Big Alcohol has added another claim that the label “does not contrast well on a red label/bottle” to their list of bizarre and baseless excuses to avoid implementing the label health warning.
It seems this time the alcohol industry was able to influence the Australian government with their aggressive lobbying against the new pregnancy warning label. The Australian food minister, Richard Colbeck, defended the delay of implementation in parliament on May 12. He used Big Alcohol’s argument of the label being too costly and added that there are “colour contrast issues” with the health warning on red labels or bottles.
Minister Colbeck contradicted himself by saying he is committed to implementing the pregnancy warning label but also would not commit to implementing the label if FSANZ recommends the same label. It seems the alcohol lobby is forcing a change in the warning label despite research and experts finding the suggested label to be the most effective.
In March, the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation, which Senator Colbeck chairs, declined to implement the proposed new label, saying it would place “an unreasonable cost burden on industry” and asked FSANZ to review its recommendation.
Saving lives or Big Alcohol profit?
Lives or alcohol industry profits are more important to the government?“, requested Centre Alliance senator Stirling Griff, who initiated a Senate inquiry into foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, to know from Senator Colbeck at the parliamentary session, as per The Sydney Morning Herald.
Senator Griff cited a FSANZ analysis showing the one-off cost to alcohol manufacturers of implementing the new labels was $4924 for each product, while the annual cost to taxpayers of health and disability services for new FASD cases was $3 million, which would amount to $13,847 per person.
The Forum on Food Regulation – made up of ministers representing all Australian states and territories, along with New Zealand will consider the issue again in their meeting in June.
The #alcohol lobby is using smoke and mirrors and delay tactics around pregnancy health warning labels, because it wants us talking about anything other than children being born with lifelong disabilities because of their products.#FASDhttps://t.co/lflOow8ARW
— FARE (@FAREAustralia) May 13, 2020
Ms. Giorgi brought to notice the unethical and harmful advertising by Big Alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and isolation which is ongoing in Australia. FARE called for better regulations after an analysis showed some Australians were being shown alcohol adverts on Facebook and Instagram every 35 seconds on average.