Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has recently called for submissions on proposed mandatory warning labels to inform consumers of the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant.

Despite the Australian and New Zealand governments regularly issuing health warnings against consuming alcohol while pregnant, recent studies conducted by FSANZ have found that consumers do not recognise that drinking “small amounts” of alcohol is also dangerous to foetuses, and considerably increases the risk of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

The Proposal

In response to these recent studies, FSANZ is proposing to introduce a mandatory pregnancy warning labelling requirement for all packaged alcoholic beverages that:

  • contain more than 1.15% alcohol (prescribed alcohol beverages); and
  • are for retail, sold to a caterer or sold as suitable for retail sale without any further processing, packaging or labelling.

This requirement will exclude prescribed alcoholic beverages that are packaged in front of consumers to ensure that licensed venues are not captured.

The proposed labelling is as follows:

  • for packaging of individual portion packs of prescribed alcohol beverages that have a volume of less than or equal to 200 ml, it must display:

        (the Pregnancy Warning Pictogram); and

  • for packaging of individual portion packs of prescribed alcohol beverages that have a volume greater than 200 ml, and outer layers of packaging that hold individual portion packs (for example cardboard that holds aluminium cans), it must display:

                  (the Pregnancy Warning Mark).

These mandatory labels will be required on each layer of packaging, unless the labels on individual portions are visible through transparent outer packaging or the product has a bladder (such as cask wines) and only the outside layer is required to display the Pregnancy Warning Mark.

Additionally, there are prescribed legibility requirements, which indicate the size (relative to product volume), pictograms, colours, fonts and the background of the Pregnancy Warning Pictogram and Pregnancy Warning Mark to ensure their prominence on product packaging.

Submissions

Businesses that produce alcoholic beverages should be aware that these additional labelling requirements are highly likely to proceed and become a mandatory requirement over a two year phase-in period once enacted.

Submissions on the proposal close on 27 October 2019. Further information on the proposed labelling requirements can be found at this link.