Journal article

The contest over 'valuable label real estate': public health reforms to the laws on alcohol beverage labelling in Australia

15 Sep 2014

Analyses the public health proposals for reforming Australia’s alcohol labelling laws, the industry’s arguments in opposition to these proposals, and the Australian federal, state and territory governments’ resistance to multiple attempts and expert recommendations to bring these public health proposals into law from 1996 to 2013.


The demand for the space on food labels is intense. In 2011, the chair of Australia’s comprehensive review of food and beverage labelling, Dr Neal Blewett, claimed that the food label ‘is one of the most highly valued and sought after communication channels in the marketplace’. Food suppliers regard the label space as their property. They are doggedly defending this property, including through legal channels, from claims by consumers and their advocates for more of this space to be given over to additional product information. Consumers around the world are increasingly seeking more information on food labels about matters such as the country of origin of the product, the inclusion of palm oil, and the use of genetically modified material. A voluntary front-of pack ‘health star rating’ system is being developed for Australian food labelling (albeit amidst intense controversy) and a ‘traffic light’ labelling scheme now exists in the United Kingdom. At the same time as consumers are demanding more detailed information about the foods they are being sold, the industry’s use of the food label to make claims about their products is being reined in. New restrictions on food-related health and nutrition claims now apply in Australia and New Zealand.

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