In 2011, an independent review of food labelling recommended that energy content be displayed on the labels of all alcoholic beverages, consistent with the requirements for other food products (recommendation 26). The recommendation was based on the premise that providing energy information would help people wanting to manage their energy intake.
In response, ministers responsible for food regulation agreed ‘in principle’ with the recommendation. Before considering the issue further, ministers asked FSANZ to undertake research, including discussions with industry, and complete a cost benefit analysis (CBA) to assess the impact of implementing the recommendation.
FSANZ contracted the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) to complete a CBA on the impacts of mandatory labelling of energy content on alcoholic beverages.
The CBA was limited to considering a mandatory regulatory approach to energy labelling of alcoholic beverages and the associated impact on obesity as better estimates were available for obesity than for overweight. It estimates the cost of obesity and the number of obese people required to move to a healthy weight to offset the costs of implementing energy labelling. The CBA did not include consideration of the costs of overweight which affects a large proportion of the population and is also associated with adverse health outcomes.
Further work by the Food Regulation Standing Committee
The CBA report prepared in response to recommendation 26 has led to further work being undertaken by the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC) to consider a range of regulatory and non-regulatory approaches with associated impacts on obesity and other outcomes to fully inform the food regulation policy development process.