On July 17th, 2020 Food Ministers in Australia and New Zealand approved the health warning labels that are to be mandatory on alcohol containers. It is safest not to drink alcohol during pregnancy. These warning labels will remind consumers of this fact.
This decision comes after years of lobbying from health organizations, experts, and advocates. A new study commissioned by the United Kingdom’s NOFASD finds that 1 in 4 young adults don’t know the health risks of drinking alcohol while pregnant. Alcohol warning labels highlighting the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy have the potential to raise public awareness of these health risks.
The accepted warning labels will be red, black, and white with the words Pregnancy Warning prominently displayed. Printing multi-coloured labels was a sticking point for many in the alcohol industry, as it adds an increased cost to producers. But a multi-coloured label is important to lobbyists because it improves the visibility of these labels. Manufacturers will have three years to implement these labels on all alcoholic beverages.
Alcohol warning labels are a low-cost approach to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) prevention and health promotion. Research suggests they are most effective when used in combination with other prevention strategies to increase awareness of the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy.
Australia and New Zealand join the United States, France, Japan, and a number of other countries who have already mandated pregnancy warning labels on alcohol containers. We’re looking forward to seeing if Canada will incorporate alcohol warning labels into a comprehensive FASD prevention strategy in the near future.