Australian beer company to voluntarily print warning labels about the harms of alcohol during pregnancy

New recommendations from an independent panel on food labelling law and policy

In October 2009, the Australian and New Zealand governments called for a review of food labelling law and policy. The final report, Labelling Logic, from the independent panel that was commissioned was released last week and the 61 recommendations made by the panel are now being reviewed by both governments.

In response to the report, Lion Nathan promised to voluntarily adopt the recommendations of the report with respect to alcohol labelling, including messages about the risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy. Lion Nathan owns some of Australia’s biggest beer brands with 43% of the beer market.

The Panel describes their decision-making with regards to its recommendations. They cite evidence that questions whether specific warning labels about the risks of alcohol during pregnancy translates into changes in women’s behaviour (a recent New Zealand study reported that 28.7% of pregnant women continued to drink during pregnancy even after being explicitly informed of the risk).

They also recognized the imposition that warning labels place on the alcohol industry and the widespread availability of information on alcohol and pregnancy from other sources (e.g., GP offices, prenatal books, web sites). That said, the Panel decided that not having warning labels on individual containers and at the point of sale would be a “glaring omission in the overall public health communication about FASD.”

The Panel’s recommendations would make generic warnings such as “Alcohol can damage your health” mandatory and also include the calorie content of drinks on their labels.

Lion Nathan states that it is voluntarily adopting the Panel’s recommendations “Because we believe this is the right thing to do …we will take these steps regardless of the pending Government response to the report.”

Read more


Lion Nathan to adopt recommendation for health warnings on alcohol labels (Daily Telegraph, January 28, 2011)

Brewer signs on for health warnings (The Australian, January 29, 2011)

Response to Blewett Labelling Review (Lion Nathan Press Release, January 28, 2011)

Labelling Logic – The Final Report of the Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy (Commonwealth of Australia, 2011)

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