New legislation on health labelling for alcohol products has been signed into law by Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly.
The law means that the labels of alcohol products will state the calorie content and grams of alcohol in the product. They will also warn about the risk of consuming alcohol when pregnant and of the risk of liver disease and fatal cancers from alcohol consumption.
Ireland is the first country in the world to introduce such regulations.
The Public Health (Alcohol) (Labelling) Regulations 2023 and remaining provisions of Section 12 of Ireland’s Public Health (Alcohol) Act were officially signed by Minister of Health Stephen Donnelly on 22 May 2023.
“This law is designed to give all of us as consumers a better understanding of the alcohol content and health risks associated with consuming alcohol,” Mr Donnelly said.
“With that information, we can make an informed decision about our own alcohol consumption. Packaging of other food and drink products already contains health information and, where appropriate, health warnings. This law is bringing alcohol products into line with that.”
Alcohol consumption can have devastating effects on individuals and communities, causing over 200 conditions and diseases, including 7 types of cancer. In the EU, light to moderate drinking levels were responsible for almost 23 000 new cancer cases in 2017, nearly half of which were female breast cancers.
“The medical evidence is clear that a cancer risk applies even at lower levels of alcohol consumption,” said Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy Hildegarde Naughton.
The Irish Health Survey, conducted in Ireland every year with over 7000 respondents, showed that 7% of respondents believed it was safe to consume a small amount of alcohol while pregnant and almost 80% were unaware of the risks of diseases such as breast cancer. Those aged 15–24 were typically less aware of the risks associated with alcohol consumption than other age groups.
Minister Donnelly expressed his satisfaction with Ireland’s pioneering role, “I welcome that we are the first country in the world to take this step and introduce comprehensive health labelling of alcohol products. I look forward to other countries following our example.”
There is a three-year lead-in time built into the law in order to give businesses time to prepare for the change. The law will apply from May 22nd, 2026.
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