Pregnancy warning labels on alcohol move welcomed

Monday 8 July, 2019

The Alcohol Policy Coalition (APC) welcomes the latest step towards mandatory pregnancy warning labels on alcoholic products sold in Australia and New Zealand.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) on Friday called for public comment on the proposed design and implementation of the warning labels. Comments are due by October 27.

Exposing foetuses to alcohol can cause a range of impairments known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

This can have a marked impact on the development of a child’s nervous system, while long-term studies show youth with FASD have high rates of mental health problems, learning difficulties and involvement with the criminal justice system.

“Consuming alcoholic products causes harm to unborn babies, so we need to make sure people know of the danger,” said APC spokesperson Mark Zirnsak, Senior Social Justice Advocate of the Uniting Church in Victoria and Tasmania.

“We have an obligation to protect our children and we can’t accept that any level of harm is OK. The alcohol industry can’t be trusted to provide information about the harms of its products. The industry were given eight years to voluntarily introduce pregnancy warning labels. Even with all that time, pregnancy warning labels appear on less than half of alcohol products, are small, unclear and hard to find.”

Two parliamentary inquiries have found that voluntary implementation by the alcohol industry is inadequate

Warning labels are proposed for all packaged alcoholic beverages containing more than 1.15% alcohol by volume.

“The APC supports mandated clear and prominent pregnancy warning labels developed on all packaged alcoholic products. The warnings are needed to provide clear information to pregnant women on the harms of drinking to their unborn babies, and as an essential part of a comprehensive strategy to prevent alcohol consumption by pregnant women,” Dr Zirnsak said.

Not drinking is the safest option for women who are planning a pregnancy or who are pregnant.

[i] Requiring pregnancy warning labels on alcohol was first recommended in 2011 by the Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy.


[i] House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs Inquiry into FASD; West Australian Legislative Assembly Education and Health Standing Committee Inquiry into Improving Educational Outcomes for West Australians of all ages.

[ii] Food Regulation Standing Committee (May 2018). Policy options targeted consultation paper: Pregnancy warning labels on package alcohol beverages. p19.

More information about the FSANZ review is online, click here.

For media enquiries please contact Kim Loudon on 03 9514 6848.

The Alcohol Policy Coalition is a collaboration of health and allied agencies who share a concern about the level of alcohol misuse and the associated health and social consequences for the community. The Alcohol Policy Coalition develops and promotes evidence-based policy responses that are known to be effective in preventing and reducing alcohol related problems.

The members of the Alcohol Policy Coalition are:

  • Australasian College of Emergency Medicine (ACEM)
  • Alcohol and Drug Foundation
  • Cancer Council Victoria
  • Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, La Trobe University
  • Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education
  • Jewish Community Council of Victoria
  • Public Health Association of Australia
  • Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
  • St Vincent’s Health Australia
  • The Salvation Army
  • Turning Point
  • Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association
  • Violence Prevention Group, School of Psychology, Deakin University
  • Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania.