Industry labelling 'good first step'

Wednesday 13 July 2011, 11:11AM

The Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC) has welcomed the alcohol industry's recognition that consumer information messages should be placed on alcohol products.

New Zealand brewer Lion Nathan announced today that it is planning to introduce health warnings on its drinks. This follows a similar move announced yesterday by DrinkWise Australia which said its members would put consumer information messages on its products. DrinkWise said the voluntary move would see 80 percent of alcoholic drinks in Australia labelled with the warnings.

ALAC Chief Executive Officer Gerard Vaughan said the move was a “good first step”.
“We are pleased the industry is acknowledging that its products can cause harm and are providing consumer information to educate the public,” Mr Vaughan said.

“However, ALAC favours mandatory rather than voluntary health warning labels and would like to see messages developed as part of a scientific and evidence based process to ensure the messages are clear and unambiguous.”

Mr Vaughan said ALAC currently had an application before the trans Tasman agency responsible for food labelling, seeking to have health warning labels on alcohol products warning of the dangers of drinking while pregnant.

“Our advice is that pregnant women or those planning to get pregnant should not drink alcohol and any health advisory labels should reflect that message clearly.”

Mr Vaughan said it was good that the industry acknowledged that health advisory warnings on alcohol products needed to be part of a broader and comprehensive campaign.

“While there is a lack of evidence on the efficacy of health advisory labels for changing behaviour when used in isolation; however there is some evidence that they can lead to an increase in awareness of the message contained when part of a comprehensive approach to reducing alcohol harm.

“To be effective health advisory labels need to be backed by consistent advice from doctors and also significant policy changes.”