FSANZ launched the public consultation process on Friday 4 October, and interested parties have until 6.00pm on Sunday 27 October to lodge their submissions. Australian Grape & Wine is working with members and across the broader alcohol beverage industry to develop a robust response to FSANZ’s recommended warning label design. They will circulate a stand-alone email to members as soon as possible to help guide response to the proposal. However, initial concerns include:
- Ministers agreed to mandate a Pregnancy Warning Label, not a HEALTH WARNING. This heading would set precedent for more health warnings in the future, despite the lack of evidence to support such a move.
- The use of the colour red, which adds significant costs to wine businesses for little-to-no material benefit.
- There are also significant problems with the methodology FSANZ has used to formulate this design, including the use of a questionable and unbalanced evidence-base and flawed consumer testing processes.
- The label will have the effect of drawing attention away from mandatory information relating to allergens, standard drinks, ABV etc, along with the effective messages of drinking in moderation that are playing a major role in improving Australia’s drinking culture.
This is a major priority for Australian Grape & Wine. While the Ministerial decision to mandate a pregnancy warning statement is now essentially irreversible, the design and substance of the label is still open for debate. According to independent data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 98.8% of women either abstain or reduce their alcohol consumption when pregnant (up from 96.6% in 2004), indicating high levels of awareness of the risks of drinking alcohol while pregnant. So the question is, why is FSANZ suggesting such a dramatic change, and what are they expecting to achieve?
Please take the time to participate in the consultation process, and let your federal and state MPs know how damaging this label design could be when you do so. Please feel free to contact Lee McLean (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to discuss this issue in further detail.