Ireland's plans for alcohol warning labels 'extremely concerning' to UK drinks industry

24 May 2023 by
Ireland's plans for alcohol warning labels 'extremely concerning' to UK drinks industry

News that Ireland will become the first country in the world to introduce health warning labels on alcoholic drinks is "extremely concerning" for the trade, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has warned.

BBPA chief executive Emma McCarklin said the new rules were "disproportionate" and there was a lack of "substantive evidence to support these measures".

Similar to health labelling on food, the labelling on drinks is intended to alert people to calorie content, grams of alcohol, risks of cancer and liver disease, and dangers of drinking while pregnant.

Ireland's health minister, Stephen Donnelly, signed the legislation on Monday (22 May), but it will not come into force until 2026.

Donnelly said that packaging of other food and drink products already contains health information and that "this law is bringing alcohol products into line with that".

From 22 May 2026, alcoholic drink providers in Ireland will have to display health information on product packaging and direct consumers to Ireland's Health Service Executive's website for further information on alcohol consumption. Similar information will also be made available in pubs and other licensed premises.

McClarkin also voiced her concern that the introduction of the new labelling system would introduce "a significant barrier to trade with Ireland for UK brewers and the rest of the world".

The Irish Government decided to go ahead with the new law before a conclusion was reached on the notification it sent to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) of its intention to put the policy into practice. Members of the WTO, which Ireland has been part of since 1995, are required to report new trade measures to the relevant body if they might have an effect on other members.

McClarkin said the consultation process was there to allow WTO members to review new policies to "ensure they are workable and do not result in technical barriers to international trade". So far, ten WTO members, including the UK, have lodged objections to the new law.

McClarkin added: "The Irish Government has yet to respond to these comments, which are due to be discussed at a June WTO committee meeting, but as an industry we will be keeping a close eye on developments in this area."

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