Physicians welcome Ministerial decision to adopt effective pregnancy warning labels on alcohol products

July 18, 2020

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians has welcomed the decision by the Ministers on the Forum on Food Regulation to endorse evidence-based pregnancy warning labels on alcohol products.

RACP President, Professor John Wilson said, “We welcome the move by Governments to endorse evidence-based warning labels developed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand for alcohol products across Australia and New Zealand.

“The alcohol industry has been participating in a voluntary labelling scheme for eight years. It has not been effective.

"Products do not universally have a label and when they do, those labels are often small, not prominently displayed and difficult to read.

“Currently, less than half of alcohol products on the market contain the industry’s pregnancy warning labels and many of those are barely noticeable.

“The decision to strengthen the visibility, legibility and effectiveness of the labels will prevent harms to the unborn child and improve outcomes for many.

“The new scheme will finally give the community the information they need to know when purchasing alcohol products.”

RACP spokesperson and Paediatrician, Professor Elizabeth Elliott, said “It’s positive to see the Government has listened to health experts and made the long-awaited decision to endorse effective pregnancy warning labels on alcohol products.”

“Women deserve to have this information readily available so that they can make an informed decision when it comes to drinking alcohol during pregnancy.”

“The colour of this label is particularly important. Red attracts attention and conveys warning, the black text on white background is easily legible, the pictogram is understandable even by non-English speaking populations, and the words ‘alcohol can cause lifelong harm to your baby’ give a clear warning message,’ said Professor Elliott.

Research indicates that almost a quarter of Australians are not aware that drinking alcohol when pregnant is harmful to an unborn baby1 and that over 60 percent of women drink alcohol during pregnancy2.

“The RACP has been supportive of pregnancy warning labels on alcohol products for over a decade – it’s great to see Australian and New Zealand governments now take this necessary step for the health of our communities.” Professor Wilson said.

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