Europe, Ireland: Alcohol health warnings soon across Europe?

Despite protests from Italy, Spain and six other EU member states, Ireland is now free to go ahead with its plan to put stark health warnings on bottles and cans of wine, beer and spirits. After Ireland informed the European Commission of their plans in June, the six-month moratorium has now passed without objection from the higher authority.

The new labeling on product packaging of alcoholic drinks in Ireland must therefore show a direct connection between alcohol consumption and fatal cancer. The dangers of liver disease from excessive alcohol consumption and the risk to unborn children from alcohol consumption by pregnant women must also be pointed out.

The implementation of these measures under Ireland's draft Public Health Regulations 2022 have to be carried out within three years after they have been officially implemented by the Irish Government.

As reported by the Guardian, especially Italy as a key exporting country of wine is very upset about the regulation. Ettore Prandini, the president of Coldiretti, Italy’s biggest farmers’ association said, the new regulation was a “direct attack” against the country. He noted that the protection of the health of EU-citizens “cannot be translated into simplistic decisions that risk unjustly criminalising individual products regardless of the quantities consumed”.

Luigi D’Eramo, an undersecretary at Italy’s agriculture, food sovereignty and forestry ministry, fears that Ireland's decision could serve as a role model and could be implemented in other EU countries as well. This would massively damage the entire sector.

 “Wine is history, culture … an expression of our territories and is part of the Mediterranean diet,” he said. “It is about quality and responsible consumption. The health warning plan is a dangerous precedent which, if followed by other countries, risks damaging a leading sector of our food and agriculture system.”

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