The Ministry of Health welcomes a decision by the Australian and New Zealand Forum on Food Regulation to make warning labels about the dangers of drinking during pregnancy mandatory on alcohol packaging. Drinking while pregnant can lead to FASD which encompasses a range of physical, cognitive, behavioural and neurodevelopmental disabilities.
The Forum, comprised of all New Zealand and Australian ministers responsible for food regulation, has published a communiqué highlighting the importance of alcohol warning labels:
Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation Communiqué 11 October 2018
“The Forum agreed that, based on the evidence, a mandatory labelling standard for pregnancy warning labels on packaged alcoholic beverages should be developed and should include a pictogram and relevant warning statement.”
The Ministry’s Deputy Director of Public Health Dr Harriette Carr notes the significance of this decision.
“The Ministry is pleased to see pregnancy warning labels will now be required on all alcohol products, reminding people how dangerous drinking during pregnancy is.
“There is no safe time to drink during pregnancy, as alcohol can affect a baby as it develops at all stages – including before women know they’re pregnant. The implications of FASD can be devastating for people with the condition as well as people who care for them.
“Health warnings have been mandatory on tobacco products for decades, including those emphasising the dangers of smoking during pregnancy. Labels on alcohol will similarly indicate to consumers that alcohol should not be consumed when pregnant.
“We are all responsible for preventing FASD, not just pregnant women. Introducing health warnings on alcohol supports other actions underway as part of the Ministry of Health-led cross-agency Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder 2016-2019 Action Plan,” says Dr Carr.
The Ministry is committed to addressing FASD and recently published a range of FASD resources online and held a FASD stakeholder seminar in late September.