NACCHO concerned “NO message on the bottle” for pregnancy warning

NACCHO is supporting Russell Family Fetal Alcohol Disorders Association and FARE’s campaign on alcohol labelling in Australia – we are now asking you to join us.

 A year ago, Australian and New Zealand Food and Health Ministers decided to place the alcohol industry in charge of developing and implementing their own health warning labels.

Food and Health Ministers indicated that after two years they would move to regulating a pregnancy health warning label. eg of labelling

However, eight months later there has been no mention of how the Government intends to do this.

 Last week FARE released a commissioned independent audit of the alcohol industry’s voluntary DrinkWise warning labels, and it’s no surprise that the result has been nothing short of a joke.

To date, only a small proportion (16%) of alcohol products carry the industry’s labels and when the label is applied, it’s barely noticeable with 98% of the messages taking up less than 5% of the label or face of the packaging.

See the FARE media release 

As a result of the Government’s inaction on this issue, FARE has mounted a campaign  to ensure that the Government keeps to its word by letting them know that labelling is too important to be left in the hands of the alcohol industry.

 A key component of the campaign is an online petition to the Chair of Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation, the Hon Catherine King, calling for an evidence-based alcohol labelling regime, which will be delivered to her office on Monday 3 September.

 The petition has now been signed by over 400 people, including a number of national not-for-profit leaders, health researchers, clinical psychologists, mums and dads, and even journalist and comedian, Julie McCrossin.

The campaign has also been featured in the Sydney Morning Herald, ABC TV, ABC News Radio, Nine MSN, AAP, and across a wide range of online media.

 FARE is aiming to gain 1000 signatures by the end of the month, and one of the most powerful actions you can take to help us reach this goal is to ask your friends to sign the online petition


You can also:

 1. forward this email to a friend

 2. Like the campaign page on Facebook

 3. Tweet about this campaign to your followers

 Remember, grassroots movements succeed because people like you are willing to get involved and spread the word.

 Elizabeth (Anne) Russell

 p: (07) 40 333 409 | f: (07) 40 333 417 | m: 0412 550 540 | e:<><>

| 84-88 Cook Street Portsmith | PO Box 6795 | Cairns Queensland 4870



Full release

See the FARE media release

2 August 2012:

An independent audit of the alcohol industry’s DrinkWise warning labels has 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 evaluation conducted by IPSOS Social Research Institute also 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.

Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) Chief Executive, Michael Thorn, says the IPSOS audit demonstrates the abject failure of the voluntary industry regime and shows the industry isn’t serious about labelling.

“It’s impossible to see the audit results as anything but a complete failure on industry’s part. Twelve months on, and for the most part the DrinkWise messages have simply not been adopted. In the case of the few products that do carry the messages, they are so inconspicuous as to be worthless,” Mr Thorn said.

The audit also highlighted a total lack of uniformity and consistency on labelling. When used, industry’s Drinkwise messages were applied selectively. Confusingly, many products were found to have consumer messages from overseas jurisdictions such as the alcohol industry’s United Kingdom’s ‘Drinkaware’ campaign.

The audit also found that messages on alcohol products such as the vodka brand that suggests ‘Enjoy with Absolut Responsibility’, were little more than glib advertising tag lines that do nothing to educate and inform consumers about responsible drinking.

“The IPSOS audit brings into sharp relief the fundamental weaknesses of industry’s voluntary scheme. What we need are evidence-based warning labels that are applied consistently across all alcohol products. That’s something industry’s half-baked voluntary scheme can clearly never deliver,” Mr Thorn said.

In December 2011, Australian and New Zealand Food and Health Ministers recommended that the alcohol industry would be given two years to voluntarily implement alcohol warning labels, after which time the government would move to mandate pregnancy alcohol warning labels.

In the eight months since, Government has shown no interest in evaluating the progress of the alcohol industry’s voluntary efforts, entrusting industry to set its own targets and assess its own progress.

“Delaying the introduction of mandatory labels for two years was a mistake, but the government’s current hands-off approach borders on negligence. Industry might wish to set the bar low, fail to clear it, and still award itself a passing grade, but this audit puts paid to that industry spin,” Mr Thorn said.

Rather than correct the mistake, Mr Thorn says the Commonwealth now plans on rewarding the alcohol industry further with a tax-payer-funded handout, with the Department of Health and Ageing set to provide DrinkWise with funding to promote its flawed labelling regime.

“What is surprising is that in the face of industry failure, the Government seems content to not only let industry continue to take the lead in such an important national health initiative, but now is prepared to throw public funds at industry to promote a largely non-existent labelling initiative,” Mr Thorn said.

Summary of Key Findings – IPSOS DrinkWise Audit

See the FARE media release

FARE is an independent, charitable organisation working to prevent the harmful use of alcohol in Australia. Since 2001, FARE has invested over $115 million in research and community projects to minimise the impact of alcohol misuse on Australians. Through its national grants program and commissioned research, FARE has established itself as a leading voice on alcohol and other drugs issues. FARE works with community groups, all levels of government, police, emergency workers, research institutions and the private sector to address alcohol-related problems. For further information visit FARE’s website:

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