01.Voluntary code should become mandatory
Alcohol industry labelling scheme fails to warn consumers
A new scheme announced by alcohol industry group DrinkWise will introduce messages on alcohol product labels aimed at encouraging responsible decisions around drinking. The voluntary scheme includes a generic message with a link to the DrinkWise website, as well as messages concerning underage drinking, harmful drinking and drinking during pregnancy.
Why are health warnings on alcohol labels important?
The dangers associated with alcohol consumption are clear, including increased risk of some cancers, heart failure, liver disease, brain damage and complications in pregnancy. Alcohol-related injuries, violence and drink-driving are among other major health concerns. Public health groups have called for a health warning scheme on alcohol products so that consumers can make informed and responsible decisions.
The verdict on the industry scheme
CHOICE welcomes efforts to improve consumer awareness about the dangers associated with alcohol consumption. However, the new industry scheme stops short of the health warnings recommended by CHOICE in its submission to the independent food labelling review panel. Public health groups have criticised the scheme for being voluntary and containing ambiguous messages.
What CHOICE wants
CHOICE believes that an effective scheme should provide consumers with clear warnings about the dangers associated with alcohol consumption. Further, the scheme should be mandatory and be overseen by government. Whilst the new scheme is a step in the right direction, the industry initiative fails to adequately warn consumers about the dangers associated with drinking.