A new mandatory pregnancy health warning on alcohol products comes at a “huge cost for no outcome,” says one Canberra brewery.
Food Safety Ministers in Australia and New Zealand came to an agreement with Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) on Friday, outlining the mandatory red, black and white warning label with the words ‘pregnancy warning’.
Previously, a smaller label warning against alcohol and pregnancy was voluntary for alcohol producers.
Popular Canberra brewery, Capital Brewing Co, have put their support behind current pregnancy labelling but said a new label will come at a large cost to the company, in an already challenging time.
“More broadly we support the pregnancy labelling and have been compliant with the voluntary scheme for about a year,” said Managing Director Laurence Kain.
“However, there is minimal change to the wording and the bit of red on there and that’s going to cost our business an upfront cost of $57,000 plus the ongoing cost of printing with an additional colour.
“That’s a brewer’s annual salary.”
Mr Kain said the company’s frustration has come from the lack of consultation the ACT Government had with local businesses on the issue.
The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) welcomed the announcement that came on Friday.
A recent survey from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has found one in six women drink alcohol after knowledge of pregnancy.
FARE CEO Caterina Giorgi said it would help to increase awareness about the dangers of drinking while pregnant.
“It’s going to be visible and clear and it’s going to help further educate the community about the risks,” she said.
“The current labelling is voluntary and has been ineffective and research has shown that less than half of alcohol producers have it on their labelling.”
Ms Giorgi argued that while a cost would be required for companies, they had three years to implement the new labelling requirements.
Mr Kain said it should be noted that just over 12 months ago, ACT companies were required to change their packaging to comply with a mandatory container deposit scheme.
“If the government is really in favour of it, it’s just a pill we have to swallow but the timing of it is super irritating given it is in the middle of a pandemic and we’re 50% down on revenue,” he said.
“We just had to change our labels over 12 months ago to comply with the container deposit scheme so the management of it has been really clumsy.”