Pregnancy warning labels on alcohol will become mandatory in New Zealand under a decision made at the Australia New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation in Adelaide.
Minister for Food Safety Damien O’Connor says mandatory labelling will strengthen the Government’s work to change drinking behaviour among pregnant women.
“Hundreds of babies a year are born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder because of exposure to alcohol in the womb. We need to take every action to reduce this harm,” Mr O’Connor said.
While the alcohol industry has been voluntarily including warnings on some products for the past six years there is no consistency in the type, colour, size and design, reducing the effectiveness of the message, he said.
There has been strong and sound support from a range of groups calling for mandatory labelling, the Minister said.
The move brings New Zealand in line with other countries that legally require pregnancy warning labels on alcohol such as the US and France.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand, the bi-national food standards setting agency, will now develop an appropriate standard to bring back to the ministerial forum for approval.