The Republic of Ireland plans to introduce warning labels to all alcohol products, due to take effect in 2026, and dozens of countries have complained that the effect is “disproportionate.”
“I welcome that we are the first country in the world to take this step and introduce comprehensive health labeling of alcohol products,” Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly told reporters this week. “I look forward to other countries following our example.”
Other countries include warning labels on alcohol products, but Ireland’s labels will include much more information.
The new labels will include the product’s calorie content and the number of grams of alcohol in addition to a general warning about the risks of alcohol consumption – the dangers of drinking while pregnant as well as the risks of liver disease and fatal cancers, the BBC reported.
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Alcohol information on a label on a bottle of beer. (Fiona Hanson – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
The delayed start is meant to provide businesses a chance to prepare for the change, but it has predictably prompted some disagreement from major alcohol exporters and sellers.
Thirteen European Union members, of which Ireland is a member, have raised concerns over the labeling. France, Italy and Spain have led the dissent, with Italian Ambassador to Ireland Ruggero Corrias saying the plan was “totally disproportionate.”
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People enjoy drinking Guinness outside Temple Bar pub, on the opening day of St Patrick’s Day Festival.
On Friday, March 15, 2019, in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
“There is nothing wrong with the warnings, the point is the warnings should be proportionate and, in this case, since you’re talking about wine, saying that drinking alcohol on a bottle of wine causes liver disease is totally disproportionate,” Corrias complained.
Several groups, including the European Committee of Wine Companies, have filed formal complaints with the European Commission against the new labels, arguing that they support Ireland’s efforts to fight alcohol abuse but that the hit to businesses may prove too costly, NPR reported.
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Another 10 countries outside of Ireland, including the U.K., U.S., New Zealand, Australia and Mexico, have also lodged complaints with the World Trade Organization, which will discuss the concerns at a Technical Barriers to Trade committee meeting on June 21.