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‘Absurd’ health warning wine labels in Ireland angers Europe

Wine producers in Europe are railing against planned legislation in Ireland that will mean “stark” health warning wine labels of liver disease and cancers will appear on wine and other alcohol products. 

'Absurd' health warning wine labels in Ireland angers Europe

Dublin informed the European Commission of its proposed legislation in June last year. When put into place, it will mean that alcohol products sold in Ireland will carry what Sky News described as “stark” warnings of liver disease and cancers.

Despite the commission’s compliance with the proposals, Italy, Spain and six other EU member states opposed the idea, with Italian farm association Coldiretti describing the legislation as a “direct attack” on Italian producers.

Some have taken Ireland’s proposals as as an affront on the Mediterranean diet, which is widely cited as a healthy and balanced way of life.

“The Mediterranean diet never says don’t use alcohol,” Italian winemaker Sandro Boscaini told Sky News. “It says don’t abuse alcohol. We know we have the longevity, after the Japanese, the maximum longevity. Why’s that? Because of the cancer that comes from the alcohol? Come on.”

Boscaini said Ireland’s legislation was an “insult” to Italy’s history of winemaking.

Coldiretti commented, “It is completely improper to equate the excessive consumption of spirits, typical of the Nordic countries, to the moderate and conscious consumption of quality products with lower alcohol content, such as beer and wine”.

And Antonio Capaldo, CEO of Feudi di San Gregorio, told the drinks business:

“Along with many other producers in Italy, I share Coldiretti’s concerns. However, I do not believe it is not a “direct attack” against Italy or any other wine producing country. Even more, I don’t believe such an aggressive position will help in any way to highlight the substantial difference between wine and other alcoholic beverages when it comes to consumption culture and therefore risk for health.

“Such a difference may be obvious to us, here in Italy, but we have to understand that this is not the same in countries with a different wine/beverages culture; and we have to accept this, and continue working on the culture, history and tradition of the incredible piece of civilisation that wine is, in particular when associated with the restaurant business, another incredible piece of human creativity.

“Ireland’s position is not a ban, is a warning – a warning for consumers who may not fully understand the risk of alcohol. It is surprising though that a similar warning does not apply, for instance, in the same Ireland regulation, on high-fat food with possible heart consequences, but as I said, our path remains unchanged: talk about wine, its origin and its culture.”

Italy’s foreign minister Antonio Tajani said the plans were “absurd” and echoed sentiments around the plans being an attack on the Mediterranean diet.

Ireland’s proposed legislation is currently being examined to check if it could be in contravention of single market rules.

Read more:

Anger in Italy over Ireland’s alcohol health warning plans

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