All packaged alcoholic drinks sold in stores must, from today, carry labels warning that alcohol can cause harm to unborn babies.
"New Zealand Food Safety wants to support pregnant people to be able to make the right health choice for themselves and their babies," said New Zealand Food Safety deputy director general Vincent Arbuckle.
"Pregnant people and those supporting them need to be aware of the risk alcohol presents for their unborn child, and the potentially life-changing consequences drinking while pregnant can have."
Food Standards Australia New Zealand developed the new labelling requirement, which New Zealand Food Safety will monitor in New Zealand. Manatū Hauora/the Ministry of Health supports the new requirement.
Manatū Hauora, deputy director of public health Dr Harriette Carr said Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) can significantly impact someone's quality of life, but it's completely preventable.
Each year, between 1,800 and 3,000 babies are born with FASD in New Zealand, which can result in heart defects, behavioural problems, and intellectual disability. There is no cure for FASD.
"Warning labels on alcohol can support increasing public awareness and understanding of risks of drinking alcohol while pregnant," said Dr Carr.
The new warning label is required on any packaged drink for retail sale that contains more than 1.15 percent alc/vol.
"The mandatory warning label is just one way to convey the message about the risk to unborn children from consuming alcohol while pregnant," said Arbuckle.
The label supports advice from doctors, midwives, Manatū Hauora, and many other groups that there is no safe amount of alcohol that can be consumed as drinking alcohol. At the same time, pregnancy can have lifelong consequences for unborn babies.
The date when the labels become mandatory, 1 August 2023, was announced in 2020. Many businesses have added warning labels to their products well before this date, so consumers may be accustomed to seeing them on alcoholic drinks already.
Alcoholic beverages packaged and labelled before the transition period ends on 31 July 2023 can be sold after the transition period without a pregnancy warning label.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand has detailed requirements and examples of warning labels for businesses on its website.