Off-trade

Italian producers angered at Ireland’s plans for alcohol health warnings

Italians feel that the proposed warnings are a ‘direct attack’ against Italy as a key exporter of wine
Coldiretti, Italy’s biggest farmers’ association said the image of Italian wine would suffer if the legislation was enacted in Ireland and followed by other countries

Coldiretti, Italy’s biggest farmers’ association said the image of Italian wine would suffer if the legislation was enacted in Ireland and followed by other countries

A plan by the Irish government to introduce health warnings on labels of bottles of wine, beer and spirits has caused anger in Italy, according to The Guardian.

The measures, which would warn consumers about the risks of cancer and liver diseases linked to alcohol and the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant, can go ahead after a deadline passed for the European Commission to oppose it.

Ireland informed the commission of its intention in June last year and did not receive an objection from the body during a six-month moratorium period despite protests from Italy, Spain and a number of other EU member states.

Coldiretti, Italy’s biggest farmers’ association, described the warnings as a “direct attack” against the country because half of the industry’s €14bn of annual revenues come from abroad.

“The green light from the European Union for alarmist wine labels in Ireland represents a dangerous precedent as it risks opening the door to other legislation capable of negatively influencing consumer choices,” the association said in a statement.

Ettore Prandini, the president of Coldiretti, said that while it was correct for the EU to protect the health of citizens, this “cannot be translated into simplistic decisions that risk unjustly criminalising individual products regardless of the quantities consumed”.

Once officially implemented under Ireland’s draft Public Health Regulations 2022 , the alcohol industry will have three years in which to implement the labelling on its products.

“Wine is history, culture … an expression of our territories and is part of the Mediterranean diet. It is about quality and responsible consumption. The health warning plan is a dangerous precedent which, if followed by other countries, risks damaging a leading sector of our food and agriculture system,” he said.

Giovanni Busi, the president of the Chianti wine consortium, said that although Ireland was not a large importer of wine, if a similar measure were adopted by other countries then it would do “inestimable” damage to the image of Italian wine.

 

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