The Republic of Ireland plans to introduce warning labels on all alcohol products, to come into force in 2026, and dozens of countries have complained that the effect is “disproportionate”.
“I am delighted that we are the first country in the world to take this step and introduce comprehensive health labeling of alcohol products,” Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly told reporters this week. “I look forward to other countries following our example.”
Other countries include warning labels on alcohol products, but Irish labels will include much more information.
The new labels will include the product’s calorie content and the number of grams of alcohol as well as a general warning about the risks of drinking alcohol: the dangers of drinking while pregnant as well as the risks of liver disease and deadly cancers, the company said. BBC.
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“This law is designed to give all of us consumers a better understanding of alcohol content and the health risks associated with alcohol consumption,” said Donnelly.
An annual health survey in Ireland found that around 22% of the country’s population aged 15-34 could be considered “binge drinking”, with 13% of drinkers saying they are consuming more alcohol now than they used to did at the onset of COVID-19. The survey also found that 79% of respondents were unaware of the risk of breast cancer from excessive alcohol consumption, 60% were unaware of the risk of bowel cancer and 7% believed it was safe to drink small amounts during pregnancy. .
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The delayed start is meant to give companies a chance to prepare for the change, but has predictably sparked some disagreement among major exporters and sellers of spirits.
Thirteen members of the European Union, of which Ireland is a member, have expressed concerns about the labeling. France, Italy and Spain spearheaded the dissent, with Italy’s ambassador to Ireland Ruggero Corrias saying the plan was “totally disproportionate”.
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“There is nothing wrong with warnings, the point is that warnings should be proportionate and, in this case, since we are talking about wine, to say that drinking alcohol on a bottle of wine causes liver disease is completely disproportionate “, Corrias complained. .
Several groups, including the European Committee of Wineries, have lodged formal complaints with the European Commission against the new labels, arguing they support Ireland’s efforts to combat alcohol abuse, but that the blow to businesses may prove too much. expensive, NPR reported.
But Ireland’s health ministry said it notified Brussels of its regulatory changes in June last year and had received no complaints during the required six-month suspension period. Donnelly told the Financial Times that postponing the change was a “clear no”.
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10 other countries outside of Ireland, including the UK, US, New Zealand, Australia and Mexico, have also made complaints to the World Trade Organisation, which will discuss the concerns at a meeting of the Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade on June 21st.
Reuters contributed to this report.