Wine, Liquor Bottles to carry label warnings from April 2019


India’s apex food safety regulator, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.(FSSAI) has given a directive that from April 2019, all wine, liquor bottles in every State will be required to affix a label saying “Be Safe-Don’t Drink and Drive” on the directives of High Court.


FSSAI has made it mandatory for all liquor bottles to have a message against drunken driving on their labels from April next year. A notification in this regard was published by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare through FSSAI. The warning will read, “Be Safe-Don’t Drink and Drive”. Every liquor, wine or beer bottle, whether of country made liquor, Indian-Made Foreign Liquor, or imported alcohol, will carry the textual warnings in English, Hindi or a regional language.


The Authority, however, decided not to enforce the suggestion to add a pictorial warning on the lines of that on cigarette packets, currently in force.


The development follows an Order passed by the Delhi High Court, which had asked the FSSAI to look into the matter, on a petition filed by the NGO Community ‘Against Drunken Driving’ (CADD). “Countries across the world that have adopted such warnings include USA, Kenya, South Africa, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Taiwan, Mexico, and Turkey,” says Prince Singhal of CADD which filed the petition.  He claims that these countries have been able to bring down the tragedies resulting from drunken driving.


NGO Community Against Drunken Driving (CADD) had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in Delhi high court seeking pictorial warning on drunk driving on all alcohol bottles, Indian or Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL). The court, which heard the plea on 18 May this, year refused to give a direction to increase the size of statutory warning on liquor bottles and packaging, saying it was in the realm of policy making.


High alcohol liquors like Bangla, the heady colourless country spirit produced in West Bengal and known for its high-alcohol content, may soon turn less intoxicating as it is set to lose much of its alcohol content, acquire a flavour and even get a colour.


Both moves are part of a pan-India move to follow the World Health Organisation’s “drink healthy and drink less” guidelines and are a consequence of alcohol’s inclusion in the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India regime from next April. FSSAI guidelines would become mandatory f or alcoholic beverages from 2019, according to senior state government officials.


WHO guidelines mandate that spirits have a maximum alcoholic strength of 42.8%. But country spirits are often stronger, with alcohol content reaching 50%. FSSAI does not have any specific directive on country spirits’ alcoholic strength as of now.


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