I know it is a victory for commonsense that the government has decided not to require specific warning messages on alcohol labels. Winemakers Federation of Australia head, Stephen Strachan, said ‘this was a sensible, considered and evidence-based response to the recommendations of the Blewitt Review.’ The wine industry has demonstrated a strong commitment to addressing alcohol abuse and its willingness to expand coverage of its existing voluntary commitment to have an on-label message warning against drinking while pregnant. Consistently with this, the Winemakers Federation is encouraging winemakers to use the ‘pregnant lady’ pictogram on labels.
I am well aware that my views on this will not be welcome in certain quarters, but it’s a strange world in which the onus is on wine producers to demonstrate a negative. As I understand the present weight of medical evidence, there is nothing to show that drinking a glass of wine a day by a healthy mother-to-be on a balanced diet (and, above all else, not smoking) constitutes a measurable adverse impact on the health of the embryo and, in due course, the newly born baby. But that is not enough: because it is impossible to prove it is risk-free, it seems the industry has to agree that there is a risk to the unborn baby, even though the risk cannot be quantified.