Draconian labelling proposals expose UK's lack of understanding about responsible consumption

01 June, 2007

Are US-style

labels,

advising women against drinking alcohol when pregnant, on the cards following the government's

zero tolerance pronouncement on the subject? Frankly, it wouldn't surprise me.

The

deputy

chief

medical

officer, Dr Fiona Adshead, claims

the new guidelines are designed to "help ensure that no one underestimates the risk to the developing foetus of drinking above the recommended safe levels". These were previously considered to be "one to two units of alcohol once or twice a week". Now the Department of Health's advice has changed to "avoid alcohol if pregnant or trying to conceive". Why the change of position?

I don't want to play down the damage that is done by Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, which affects an estimated 6,000 children a year in the UK because their mothers have over-indulged during pregnancy, but the guidelines seem unnecessarily Draconian to me, as

does Alcohol Concern's ridiculous call for parents who serve alcohol to children under 15 at home to be prosecuted.

A large part of our problem with alcohol in this country is that too many of us don't know how to consume

responsibly and in moderation. The contrast with France could not be greater, where pregnant women see nothing wrong with the occasional glass of wine and children are routinely served watered down "gros rouge" at the dinner table.

Where alcohol is concerned, it doesn't have to a matter of black or white. Sometimes grey is the much more satisfactory response.




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