Health Minister Must Ignore Beverage Industry and Vote for Stronger Label
The Victorian Greens have called on Health Minister Jenny Mikakos to support strong health warning labels on alcohol products to prevent their consumption during pregnancy.
The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation will vote on a new label design this Friday (17/072020), with Mikakos and Minister Jaclyn Symes set to represent Victoria at the event.
However, despite repeated questioning, Mikakos hasn’t indicated how she will vote, raising the possibility that she may bow to industry pressure for a watered down ‘pregnancy advice’ label.
In a letter to Mikakos, the Greens have urged her to vote for the stronger, evidence-based health warning label recommended by the independent Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).
The label features a clear pregnancy warning in red and states the harm that alcohol can cause to an infant.
CHOICE is one of 150 organisations backing @FAREAustralia in calling for a visible health warning on alcohol labels. Labels should first meet the needs of consumers, not the needs of marketing teams. #visiblehealthwarning pic.twitter.com/MyzNSgzQjG— CHOICE (@choiceaustralia) July 15, 2020
Victorian Greens spokesperson for health, Dr Tim Read, said it was important that Mikakos voted in favour of a genuine health warning label rather than an ambiguous advice label.
He added that the state government’s closeness to the alcohol and beverage industry should not interfere, and that Mikakos’ vote on Friday should be informed by expert opinion and not industry pressure.
Research suggests that about five per cent of Australian children are born with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, leading to lifelong disability. And yet, inexcusably, at the last meeting of the Forum of Food Regulation, ministers voted to delay the implementation of this essential health measure.
Victoria’s vote could be crucial this time.
Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens spokesperson for health, Dr Tim Read:
“Mikakos is yet to indicate whether she will vote to implement a strong health warning label on alcohol products or a watered down pregnancy advice label.
“In order for people to make their own decisions while pregnant, they need to be alerted to the facts.
“We hope that despite the state government’s close relationship with the alcohol and beverage industry, Mikakos will vote with expert advice in mind and not industry pressure.
“To prevent Victorians and their infants during pregnancy, we must adopt a strong label warning of the health risks associated with consuming alcohol while pregnant.”
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