Brewers call for pregnancy warnings on all alcoholic beverages
There are a number of food and drinks that women are encouraged to avoid during pregnancy, and alcohol is one of the most notable. However, not all alcoholic beverage display warning labels and the Brewers Association of Australia claims it is time this changes.
Voluntary pregnancy labelling came into effect in 2012 and Brett Heffernan, CEO of the Brewers Association of Australia, cited research which has proven its positive impact.
“Research commissioned by DrinkWise Australia shows that 89% of the young adult population recall the warnings on product labels and packaging.
“According to the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 55.6% of pregnant women in Australia do not drink alcohol at all. The data points to an encouraging trend of continual improvement, up from 40% in 2007.
“Among the 44.4% of women who did consume alcohol while pregnant, 97.3% were having no more than 1–2 standard drinks over the course of their pregnancy. While the trends are very positive, there is still more to do.”
The Brewers Association of Australia — which represents the country’s premier producers in Carlton & United Breweries, Lion Beer Australia and Coopers Brewery — has been proactive in adopting pregnancy warning labels and is now criticising others’ delay in following suit.
Heffernan suggested that it should no longer be a voluntary effort but a mandatory one, and it is becoming a matter of urgency.
“Our members are leaders in responsible marketing practices, including pregnancy warning labels,” he said. “All have been 100% compliant in carrying the warning symbol on all beers they make for years. And, as they acquire new brands, those labels are brought up to speed. But the whole alcohol sector needs to step up.
“A voluntary system is an opportunity for industry to demonstrate that it is responsible and responsive. After six years of voluntary pregnancy labelling it is bewildering that so many are still dragging their heels and giving the whole industry a black eye.”
The consumption of alcohol during pregnancy can lead to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), which are a range of problems that last a lifetime, such as significant cognitive, behavioural, health and learning difficulties.
Heffernan suggested breweries have a responsibility to help prevent this from occurring by warning pregnant women about the effects of consuming alcohol during pregnancy. This should be a collaborative effort between industry, government and the community, and there is still plenty of room for improvement in this area.
“Making further inroads into the incidences of FASD will take a long-term commitment and, to be effective, evidence-based, targeted interventions for at-risk groups will require a combination of education resources and effort from governments, industry and the community,” Heffernan explained.
“Australia’s major brewers are willing to do their part.”
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