spirited debate | 

Ireland’s ‘terrifying’ plans for wine labels slammed as ‘direct attack’ on Italian farmers

The ‘terrifying’ labels are a ‘dangerous precedent’ that might impact the Italian wine industry, an Italian farmer’s association said

Photo: Refat Mamutov

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

Italian farmers have slammed an Irish plan to put health warnings on bottles of wine, beer and spirits as a “terrifying” and “direct attack against them.”

The labels will warn drinkers about how cancer and liver disease is linked to alcohol as well as the risks of drinking during pregnancy.

Italy’s largest farmers’ association – Coldiretti – has reeled at the plans to introduce the “alarmist” wine labels.

“The excessive consumption of spirits” and not the products themselves are the issue, it told The Guardian.

The “terrifying” labels are a “dangerous precedent” that might impact the Italian wine industry, Coldiretti said in a statement.

“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.”

Ettore Prandini, the president of Coldiretti, said protecting the health of EU citizens “cannot be translated into simplistic decisions that risk unjustly criminalising individual products regardless of the quantities consumed”.

A spokesperson for Italy’s department of agriculture said wine is “part of the Mediterranean diet” and warning labels risk “damaging a leading sector of our food and agriculture system”.

Plans to introduce the health warning labels on bottles of alcohol were sent to the European Commission in June of last year.

The European Commission has said Ireland is free to bring in the new labels, despite trenchant opposition from 12 EU capitals.

The labels have not yet been implemented in Ireland.

Cost increases on pints and other drinks in the country have been a major source of pushback at home in recent weeks.

An upcoming price hike for pints of Guinness and other beers has been slammed as “bad news” for pubs by the Vinter’s Federation of Ireland .

Pub-goers will pay an extra 12c for a pint of Guinness from February 1.

It follows a price hike of 17c on pints of Heineken in November.

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