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Ireland 'Jumping The Gun' On Alcohol Labelling, Says SpiritsEUROPE

By Steve Wynne-Jones
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Ireland 'Jumping The Gun' On Alcohol Labelling, Says SpiritsEUROPE

Ireland is seeking to "rush" procedures already underway at European level to include more health information on alcohol labelling, the director general of SpiritsEUROPE, Ulrich Adam, has said.

In an interview on Irish radio, Adam said that Ireland's plans to label alcohol products with calorie content, grams of alcohol and additional health warnings are an unnecessary step, given that European Commission proposals on harmonised health labelling are already taking place.

"This is another example where a Member State is trying to to rush a procedure that the Commission has already said itself will be harmonised at EU level in the foreseeable future," Adam told Newstalk.

"The preparatory work by the European Commission on harmonised health awareness [and] health warning label proposals for alcoholic beverages has already started. We're not talking about something that's coming in five or ten years.

"We think it's good practice that a Member State like Ireland would stop the procedure and wait for the harmonised proposal to see the light of day."

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Formal Complaints

SpiritsEUROPE, along with several other drinks representative groups, have submitted formal complaints to the European Commission over Ireland's labelling plans, saying that it would undermine the integrity and functioning of the EU’s Single Market.

In addition, Adam questioned whether such a move would have the desired effect in encouraging more moderate drinking behaviour.

"The crucial point is that a warned consumer is not necessarily an informed consumer," he told Newstalk. "[We] have done a lot, and are doing a lot, to improve consumer information. We are offering energy information on pack. We are rolling out extensive digital labelling systems that you can scan via QR code scanning. We're working on advanced information ecosystems that will really ensure that consumers can find information they need."

Read More: Irish Government Introduces 'World First' Alcohol Labelling Legislation

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Health Warnings

Commenting on the planned labelling measures, which are due to be enacted from May 2026, Irish health minister Stephen Donnelly said “Packaging of other food and drink products already contains health information and, where appropriate, health warnings. This law is bringing alcohol products into line with that.”

Some groups have suggested that the move may backfire for Ireland, with The Brewers of Europe noting last week, 'By creating this barrier to trade, Ireland is forcing brewers to decide whether to shoulder the additional costs and bear the administrative and logistical burden of an Ireland-specific labelling regime or simply to exit the Irish market altogether.'

Read More: SpiritsEUROPE Calls For Investigation Into New Irish Rules On Labelling Alcoholic Beverages

© 2023 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest drinks news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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