Ireland implements alcohol health labels first 2023


Ireland is expected to become the first nation in the world to require health warning labels on intoxicating beverages.

The legislation, which was signed by health minister Stephen Donnelly earlier this week, will inform consumers of the calorie and alcohol content, the risk of cancer and liver disease, and the hazards of imbibing during pregnancy.

The law includes a three-year lead-in period to allow businesses time to prepare for the transition.

According to Donnelly, the law is intended to provide consumers with a greater comprehension of the alcohol content and health risks associated with alcohol consumption, allowing consumers to make informed decisions regarding alcohol consumption.

He added, “Other food and beverage packaging already includes health information and, where applicable, health warnings.” This law conforms alcohol products to this standard.”

The law is anticipated to take effect on 22 May 2026.

The minister for public health, wellness, and the national drugs strategy, Hildegarde Naughton, stated that medical evidence demonstrates that “cancer risk applies even at low levels of alcohol consumption.”

The information and warnings must be displayed on the packaging of alcoholic beverages with a label that directs the consumer to Ireland’s “Health Service Executive” website.

The Irish Cancer Society issued a statement expressing its approval of the news. Rachel Morrogh, director of advocacy at the Irish Cancer Society, asserts that health labeling will enable individuals to “make informed decisions about alcohol by increasing their awareness of the health risk it poses.”

Eurocare, an association of non-governmental and public health organizations from across Europe that advocates for the prevention and reduction of alcohol-related damage, also supported the new legislation.

However, the legislation has not been universally welcomed. SpiritsEurope filed a formal complaint with the European Commission requesting the initiation of an infringement procedure against Ireland for “violating EU law with its proposed new labeling regulations for alcoholic beverages.”

The representative for producers of alcoholic beverages in the European Union believes that the law would create an excessive trade barrier that could impede the free flow of products.

“In practice, the new regulations would prevent economic operators from selling alcoholic beverages legally sold in all other EU Member States in Ireland unless the products were re-labeled with additional information on the grams of alcohol and the number of calories in the container, as well as health warnings text and pictograms,” stated the statement.

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