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Ireland to introduce world’s first health labelling law for alcohol

young woman with glasses smiling
2 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
two glasses of whisky

Ireland has passed new regulations to introduce health labelling on all alcohol products sold in the country.

The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly signed the Public Health (Alcohol) (Labelling) Regulations 2023 and the remaining provisions of Section 12 of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act into law, meaning businesses will have to use ‘comprehensive health labelling’ on alcoholic goods.

These new labels will need to show the calorie content, and number of grams of alcohol in an alcoholic product.

Labelling will also need to warn people on the risks of consuming alcohol while pregnant, as well as how consumption increases the risk of liver disease and terminal cancers.

It will also direct consumers to the national health service website as well as the country’s authoritative information source on alcohol risks,

Ireland says it is the first country worldwide to introduce a health labelling system for alcoholic beverages.

While now written into Irish law, businesses will have three years to prepare for the change, with the legislation coming into effect on 22 May 2026.

Donnelly said the new law has been developed to improve consumers’ understanding of alcohol content in products as well as the health risks that come with excessive drinking.

He said in a statement: “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.”

“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.”

According to a 2016 edition of the Healthy Ireland Survey, which gathered responses from over 7,000 people in the country, nearly 80% of respondents were unaware of the risk of breast cancer associated with excess alcohol consumption, while 60% did not know about the increased bowel cancer risk.

Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy, Hildegarde Naughton, added: “Everyone has a right to be told about the risks associated with a product before we consume it. This law is designed to ensure all consumers of alcohol have access to clear and concise information about the risks from alcohol.

“The medical evidence is clear that a cancer risk applies even at lower levels of alcohol consumption.”

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