Pregnancy warning labels on alcohol will become mandatory in New Zealand, Minister for Food Safety Damien O’Connor announced today.
The decision was made at the Australia New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation in Adelaide.
“While the alcohol industry has been voluntarily including warnings on some products for the past six years there is no consistency in the type, colour, size and design, reducing the effectiveness of the message,” Damien O’Connor said.
“There has been strong and sound support from a range of groups calling for mandatory labelling and I’m pleased today we were able to take this step.
“Drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases the risk of pregnancy complications and can cause permanent damage to the brain and body of the developing foetus.
“A standard message that is clear and consistent on the importance of not drinking while pregnant will be easy to implement and benefit all New Zealanders.
“This move builds on our work to make New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child, by helping to ensure the best possible start to life.
“Mandatory labelling will further strengthen the Government’s wider programme of work to change drinking behaviour among pregnant women.
“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,” Damien O’Connor said.
The move brings New Zealand in line with other countries that legally require pregnancy warning labels on alcohol such as the US and France.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand, our bi-national food standards setting agency, will now develop an appropriate standard to bring back to the Forum for approval.