From this moment on, the expression "Irish cas" will take on a new meaning for the wine sector. On June 21st, in fact, the Dublin government notified the European Commission of the draft 2022 regulation on public health which includes the introduction of mandatory health warnings on the label of alcoholic beverages. The news for the wine sector creates a very dangerous precedent, just at the moment when in the Old Continent there is a heated debate on health warnings on the label, nutriscore and reviews of the promotion system in the implementation of the Cancer Plan.
Health warnings for Irish wine
The deadline for submitting comments on this initiative is September 22nd. Then, in the absence of objections from the EU Commission, the new Irish legislation will be applied to all alcoholic products placed on the national market. In what way? The proposal includes health warnings that relate drinking to liver disease and fatal cancer, in addition to the crossed-out pictogram of the pregnant woman, the amount of grams of alcohol and the number of calories contained in the product. Lastly, linking to askaboutalcohol.ie website to find information on public health in relation to alcohol consumption (see image). Six points that destroy in an instant many months of battles in the sector against the proposal of the EU Commission to equate the effects of alcohol based on consumption and abuse. We recall, in fact, that last February, thanks to teamwork with Italy, at the last minute the two things were not put on the same level and the use of alarmist labels (cigarette-style) had been avoided, pending understanding how to introduce responsible consumption warnings.
Health warnings in the wine sector
"What’s alarming" is the comment of UIV President Lamberto Frescobaldi "is that the Irish request could lead, in the coming months, to an initiative by the European Commission on health warnings for the whole continent. Practically, the health warnings that the EU political institution wanted to delete from the text are now in danger of coming back through the window." Ireland taking this initiative - a country in which there is a whole literature on the obsessive relationship between alcohol and society - speaks volumes and "clears" wine from the leading role in so-called "heavy episodic drinking." According to WHO data processed by the UIV Observatory, compared to Italians, the Irish consume on average almost triple the spirits and 250% more beer. With wine accounting for only 25% of the shopping basket, against 63% in Italy. "The Irish case is emblematic" observes UIV Secretary General, Paolo Castelletti "and reflects a fairly common condition in Northern European countries, where compulsive alcohol drinking, which represents a much more pressing social issue than in the Mediterranean area, is certainly not connected to wine."
To pay the consequences, however, will be above all wine, if this race towards demonization of consumption does not stop. Will just over two months be enough to set up effective counter actions to regulate the forward flight of individual member countries? And who will be next after Ireland?
by Loredana Sottile