- National agreement for mandatory labels on all packaged alcoholic drinks to warn about the risk of drinking alcohol during pregnancy
- Labels designed to help reduce harm to unborn babies and newborns
- Important public health initiative led by Western Australia
The McGowan Government has led the way in delivering a national commitment to apply pregnancy warnings on all packaged alcoholic drinks.
The decision was made today at the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation in Adelaide.
The Commonwealth, States and Territories agreed to support the introduction of mandatory pregnancy health warnings on alcoholic beverages.
The Western Australian Minister for Health has long pushed for the new mandatory measures, arguing strongly that the current voluntary measures are inconsistent, ineffective and putting lives of unborn children at risk.
Following the decision, Food Safety Australia and New Zealand will develop a suitable warning message and pictogram.
Mandatory labelling to increase awareness of the dangers of alcohol during pregnancy at the point of purchase and consumption is long overdue.
Alcohol can disturb the development of an embryo or foetus. It can also be harmful to newborn babies if passed on through breast milk. If a foetus is exposed to alcohol, it can result in a range of adverse effects to the brain and organs of the unborn child, collectively known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders or FASD.
As the nature and degree of adverse effects of alcohol exposure to the brain and organs of the unborn child is hard to predict, no alcohol during pregnancy is the safest option.
Women who are concerned about their alcohol use during pregnancy or their child's development, should talk to a health professional or call the Alcohol and Drug Support Line on 9442 5000.
Comments attributed to Health Minister Roger Cook:
"I'm pleased the forum has agreed with the McGowan Government proposal to place pregnancy warning labels on packaged alcohol products. We know alcohol is harmful to unborn babies so increasing awareness of the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy and while breastfeeding is essential.
"We now have a national commitment to this initiative which is aimed at reducing the harmful effects and incidence of FASD in our community. This is a small but important first step in reducing the condition that puts the lives of vulnerable children at risk.
"We know that a significant number of children in our juvenile detention facilities have one or more cognitive issues including symptoms of FASD, so it is clear this is having a detrimental effect on our communities and it is time to take a stand. I am very pleased with this outcome."
Minister's office - 6552 6500