Alcohol producers could soon be required to add ‘energy information’ such as calories / kilojoules, following preliminary analysis by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

In a process beginning in 2019, FSANZ compiled evidence identifying ‘the problem’ of alcohol labelling, and considering ‘whether labelling is appropriate for addressing the identified problem.

As a result, FSANZ said it had identified the following ‘problem statement’: “Unlike most other packaged food and beverages, labels on most packaged alcoholic beverages do not provide information about energy content to enable consumers to make informed choices in line with dietary guidelines.”

A second stage of the process investigated ‘regulatory and non-regulatory options for energy labelling of packaged alcoholic beverages to identify a preferred approach.’

FSANZ then stated that following its assessment, ‘on-label energy information is the best option to address the problem statement.’

The assessment also found that a ‘mandatory approach to energy labelling’ will provide ‘greater coverage and consistency for consumers than a voluntary approach.’

FSANZ also acknowledge that as alcoholic beverages are of ‘little other nutritional significance’, a label featuring alcohol and energy information only would suffice, and was ‘the preferred format for stakeholders’.

The end result is a proposal to amend the Australian and New Zealand Food Standard Code to include a stimulation requiring the energy labelling of alcohol. This proposal enter the assessment phase in April 2022, with consultation of the industry and others occurring between June and November of this year.

The Shout contacted a Wine Australia spokesperson, who provided further commentary about the consultation process:

“Consultation is contemplating whether labelling ought to be on or off package, and how calorie information ought to be calculated,” the spokesperson said.

“FSANZ is likely to decide whether to change the FSANZ Code to require calorie labelling for alcoholic beverages in mid-March 2023,” they continued.

If approved, a notification to the Food Ministers’ meeting to follow later in March. In the event that there is no further review requested, FSANZ anticipates ‘gazettal’ or acceptance into the code in the middle of 2023.

Read the FSANZ summary of analysis and the proposal here. A timeframe of events can be found here.

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