One-third of RTDs adopt mandatory pregnancy warning

Only one-third of ready-to-drink (RTD) products in Australia have introduced a mandatory pregnancy warning about the potential harms of prenatal alcohol exposure.

In 2020, Australia ruled that all RTD products must carry warning labels about the potential risk of drinking alcohol while pregnant.

Due to industry pressure, a three-year implementation period was granted.

A study of 491 RTDs sold in three alcohol stores in Sydney, Australia, from March to May 2022, found only 36% displayed the mandatory version of the prenatal warning.

Nearly all of the products (94%) had some form of pregnancy warning, the study noted.

The study also found that of the non-mandatory warnings, 74% were DrinkWise warnings (42% of the total sample) and 27% were ‘other’ warnings (15% of the total sample).

The study chose to examine the RTD category specifically as it is the ‘fastest-growing drinks category by volume’, the report said.

The study highlighted that hard seltzers were forecast to grow by 24% between 2020 and 2025 in Australia. However, 90% of the products sampled in the study did not carry any prenatal warning.

“Two years post-introduction of the new Australian pregnancy warning, only around one-third of the assessed RTD products displayed the mandatory pregnancy warning,” the study concluded.

“Effective warning labels are a simple tool that can raise awareness and act as a reminder of the potential harms to the foetus and the mother associated with pre-natal alcohol exposure. It is therefore critical that the alcohol industry intensified its efforts to ensure compliance with the mandatory requirement.”

A few years ago, 12 drinks companies, including Diageo and Pernod Ricard, pledged to include age-restriction symbols on their products as part of a joint effort to reduce underage drinking.

Ireland became the first country with alcohol labels that list calorie and health risk information for consumers.

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Author: Melita Kiely