The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

NZABC says labels won’t reduce alcohol harm

The NZ Alcohol Beverages Council has rejected the call for mandatory labelling on alcohol bottles in light of a new survey by the University of Otago.

“Mandatory labelling is the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff in terms of preventing harm from alcohol,” says Executive Director, Nick Leggett. “This study shows there is widespread labelling in New Zealand and as we know this doesn’t prevent harm.

“What we need is further education, starting younger, in partnerships between Government, industry and the community.

“We teach kids about sex and how to drive a car, but too often people go into the world without being sensibly educated about alcohol.”

Leggett says the study does nothing but report labelling as it is, and that it is nearly impossible to draw any conclusions about actions from it, given there are thousands of alcohol products and this study has looked at 59 by presumably visiting one bottle store.

“Alcohol labelling actually doesn’t work. There is no credible research anywhere that shows that warning labels reduce harmful consumption of alcohol. There is a clear difference between seeing something and then changing your action as a result,” he says.

Leggett says there is a robust Government process in place now assessing how to use labelling, and NZABC has suggested that Food Safety Minister Damien O’Connor could be approached for comment on this.

“The vast majority of New Zealand alcohol products now contain pregnancy warnings after a successful voluntary roll-out of labels by industry.

“The alcohol sector is committed to reducing harm from alcohol products. That is done through real and continuous education.”