Compulsory pregnancy warning labels on alcohol

By Regan Paranihi

The government has announced that pregnancy warning labels on alcohol will become compulsory in New Zealand.

Thie decision was made at the Australia New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation in Adelaide yesterday and Australia will also adopt the changes.

Minister for Food Safety, Damien O’Connor, says alcohol can have a long-term effect on the development of the unborn child.

“Drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases the risk of pregnancy complications and can cause permanent damage to the brain and body of the developing foetus,” 

O’Connor says the decision follows a promise the government made to make New Zealand the 'best place in the world for children'.

“Hundreds of babies a year are born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder because of exposure to alcohol in the womb.  We need to take every action to reduce this harm.”

While the alcohol industry has been proactive in providing warning labels on some of their products, there is no effect to the message as many people tend to miss it due to the inconsistency of the warning labelling.

“A standard message that is clear and consistent on the importance of not drinking while pregnant will be easy to implement and benefit all New Zealanders,” says O’Connor.