The FARE team is pleased to advise that we reached our goal of over 1000 signatures on our petition for mandatory, evidence-based alcohol warning labels in Australia. The petition was submitted to the Hon Catherine King at Parliament House today, and we look forward to keeping all our supporters informed on our progress.
If you’d like to receive our regular updates about our work in policy, research, grants and campaigns, please subscribe to our E News Bulletin.
FARE is an independent, charitable organisation that relies on financial contributions from individuals and like-minded organisations to support our work. All donations to FARE over $2 are tax deductible. Make your secure online donation now.
1. Show the Federal Government that you support mandatory, independently regulated alcohol labels by signing our online petition.
We need to make some noise if the Government is going to stand up to the powerful lobby of the alcohol industry. We’re aiming to get as many signatures as possible to ensure the Government introduces mandatory pregnancy warning labels on alcohol products. On 1 September, the petition will be sent to the Hon Catherine King MP, Chair of the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation.
2. Get social! Share a link to the petition on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, watch our videos, and be the first to hear about our actions and events around the country by subscribing to our E News Bulletin.
One of our most powerful and important assets is our community. We’re always working to make our information, resources, and relevant news more accessible to people both in Australia and internationally. By sharing our campaigns and stories with your friends it helps to raise people’s awareness of alcohol issues!
In December 2011, Australian and New Zealand Food and Health Ministers decided to leave alcohol labelling in the hands of the alcohol industry, despite the call from public health experts to introduce mandatory alcohol health warning labels.
Food and Health Ministers indicated that after two years they would move to regulating a pregnancy health warning label for alcohol. However, eight months later there has been no mention of how the Government intends to do this. We need to ensure that that the Government keeps to its word by letting them know how important we think labelling is.
It has now been one year since the alcohol industry introduced its own alcohol ‘consumer information label’ regime through their industry funded ‘not-for-profit’ organisation, DrinkWise. The industry’s labels are small, have unclear messaging and do not appropriately address the harms that alcohol causes.
FARE commissioned IPSOS Social Research to carry out an independent audit of the alcohol industry’s DrinkWise warning labels, which found that a full year after the voluntary initiative was launched, fewer than one in six (16%) alcohol products carry the consumer information messages.
The audit found most DrinkWise messages are largely hidden, with 98 per cent of the messages taking up less than 5 per cent of the label or face of the packaging.
It’s no surprise to most people that the primary concern of the alcohol industry is its sales, not the health of Australians. While the Government twiddles its thumbs waiting and hoping for the alcohol industry to do the right thing with labeling, thousands of Aussies continue to fall victim to alcohol-related harms.
Of course, it takes more than evidence-based labels and mandatory government enforcement to change Australia’s drinking culture, but we know the starting point is getting the facts out there about the range of harms from alcohol to the community. We also know that one of the best places to promote these messages is right on the bottle or can.
International experience has shown us that if labels are implemented properly with Government regulations on the specifics of health warning messages; this policy has the potential to both increase awareness of alcohol-related harms AND change behaviour.
In 2010, the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation (FoFR) undertook a comprehensive review of food labelling law and policy in Australia and New Zealand. The final report entitled Labelling Logic was presented to the Ministerial Council on 28 January 2011. The report made four recommendations on alcohol product labelling, including recommendations on the application of health warning labels and nutrition information panels.
FARE prepared a policy position paper in response to recommendations made by Labelling Logic in favour of improved alcohol product labelling, including mandatory health warning labels. This policy position paper has been endorsed by the Executive of the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol.
On 9 December 2011, FoFR met to consider the recommendations of Labelling Logic, the final report from the review of food labelling in Australia. Both in its Communique and in its detailed response to Labelling Logic, FoFR recommended that the alcohol industry would be given two years to voluntarily implement alcohol pregnancy warning labels, after which time the government would regulate.
Eight months after FoFR made its recommendations on pregnancy warning labels, Commonwealth Government representatives are still unable to provide any firm details about the introduction of the 2013 mandatory scheme.