New Zealand will be moving to mandatory pregnancy warning labels on alcohol products, Food Safety Minister Damien O’Connor has announced.
The move was agreed late yesterday at a meeting of the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation.
“We share a Food Standards system with Australia so any decisions like this are made jointly,” Damien O’Connor said.
“This has been a really important issue for New Zealand and something we’ve been working towards for almost a decade.
“This Government wants New Zealand to be the best place in the world to be a child – and that starts in the womb. Those formative months in pregnancy are the foundations for a long, healthy, happy life.
“Hundreds of babies a year are born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder because of exposure to alcohol in the womb. We need to take every action to reduce this harm.
“While the alcohol industry has been voluntarily including warnings on some products since 2011 there is no consistency in the type, colour, size and design, reducing the effectiveness of the message.
“A standard message that is clear and consistent on the importance of not drinking while pregnant will be easy to implement and will minimise the impact that alcohol consumption has on New Zealand children.”
The move brings New Zealand in line with other countries that legally require pregnancy warning labels on alcohol such as the USA and France.
The changes will be adopted in New Zealand and Australia following a three year transition period. This will enable businesses to make the necessary changes to their labels and processes. An exact date is still to be set.
The official communique by the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation can be found here.
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