The Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) has said the government is ignoring the drinks industry which supports almost 210,000 jobs and drives exports worth €1.25 billion a year.
The Irish representative body for the sector has also criticised the Health Committee following the lack of movement on cancer warning labels in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015.
“There are currently 18 whiskey distilleries in Ireland and 19 more planned, as well as 100 breweries around the country,” said Patricia Callan, director of ABFI.
“While we support the objectives of the Alcohol Bill, to tackle harmful drinking and alcohol misuse, we cannot stand by as the Government ignores these businesses, ignores the evidence and ignores any reasonable amendments that would make this legislation workable and ensure it remains effective.”
"Inaccurate, Misleading And Trade-Distorting.”
The ABFI outlined five reasons why cancer labels should be removed from the Bill:
The first is that labels will be confusing and misleading, with the group saying that the association between alcohol and cancer is complex and cannot be adequately explained in a single label.
It also said that it will cause huge repetitional damage to Ireland’s food and drinks industry, being the only country in the world where mandatory cancer labels are on alcohol products.
The new bill, ABFI said, will result in barriers to trade both in and out of Ireland, which will then, in turn, hurt small producers, who will be required to develop labels specifically for the Irish market and a second set of labels for elsewhere.
The final issue the group warned of was that other Irish food and drinks products may be targeted next, such as red and processed meat.
Universal Labelling Requirements
“Claims have made that it would be easy for producers to change their labels for the Irish market, as they do it for other markets like the US. However, the Irish market is significantly smaller than the US and therefore it is more expensive for producers to make tailored labels for a market the size of Ireland,” Callan added
“It would make way more sense to have EU-wide labelling requirements. This is something that’s already in train, with European drinks companies currently working towards a new EU-wide commitment to provide more nutritional and ingredient information, in conjunction with the European Commission. It should be noted also that health warnings in countries like the US are more reasonable in their nature, highlighting the link between excessive consumption and health problems, rather than a sweeping and misleading ‘alcohol causes cancer’ statement.”
Callan said that the group believes that the objectives of the Alcohol Bill could be achieved through “more effective and less trade restrictive means”. She suggested in a way that would also tackle the issue of alcohol misuse and would not unnecessarily damage the industry.
© 2018 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Aidan O’Sullivan. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.