An EU objection by two major wine-producing countries has delayed by at least three months an Irish bill to put health warning labels on alcoholic drinks here.
The move, triggered by wine exporters Italy and Portugal, now raises big doubts about warnings linking alcohol and cancer. The new EU process means the Public Health Alcohol Bill, first published in 2015 by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as health minister, will now be stalled for at least another three months.
The two countries’ objections were revealed by EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan, who has a role under the EU’s single market rules for food and drink. Mr Hogan said the large wine-producing countries were concerned about the prospect of cancer warnings on drink labels.
“There is a question about what is a cancerous product, whether this is based on science, or World Health Organisation reports, and labelling and nutrition arrangements. These are all difficult issues when they have to appear on a label,” Mr Hogan said.
The issue was first raised in discussions in the Seanad last week during a special session with Mr Hogan.
Mayo Senator Michelle Mulherin later said the labelling rules in the bill raised the prospect of draught beer pumps in pubs also having to carry graphic warnings about cancer.
“The rules appear excessive and not very practical,” Ms Mulherin told the Irish Independent.
The alcohol draft law is currently before the Dáil after a difficult passage through the Seanad.