A pregnancy health warning label on alcohol will be voted on by Ministers of the Australian and New Zealand Ministerial Forum for Food Regulation (The Forum) on 17 July says Dr Nicki Jackson, Executive Director of Alcohol Healthwatch.
“We are focused on reducing and preventing alcohol-related harm in Aotearoa New Zealand. This includes increasing awareness of and support for alcohol-free pregnancies to prevent fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) as well as alcohol-related premature birth, miscarriage and stillbirth.
“The strong science behind the proposed pregnancy health warning label demonstrates best practice. We urge Ministers to do the right thing and to vote wisely,” continues Dr Jackson.
“New Zealand together with Australia can lead the world in effective labelling and as the world watches, it is our duty of care that can create a lasting legacy based on science that underpins the most effective label. Voting in favour of the label will finally provide a strong and consistent warning message of the lifelong harms that can result from alcohol use during pregnancy. This will protect our future generations for years to come,” concludes Jackson.
A petition was delivered to Parliament in 2000 calling for a specific warning label on alcohol to inform pregnant women and protect their babies. The petition was successful but the decision to confirm the regulation details is still being challenged – 20 years later.
The New Zealand Ministry of Health states that around half of all pregnancies are exposed to alcohol and, additional research found that 23% of New Zealand women report consuming alcohol in their first trimester.
The pregnancy health warning label to be voted on this month sends a clear signal about the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy, prompting discussions among New Zealanders and supporting social norms for alcohol-free pregnancies.
Working closely with colleagues in Australia to reach the Ministers and stakeholders, New Zealand is sharing an open letter that many have already signed and shared. It can be found at www.protectourfuture.org.nz. Kiwis are urged to sign, share and support this important initiative.