Hopes for post-harvest agreement on French pregnancy drinking pictogram

New rules for a pictogram that warns pregnant women against drinking alcohol are being debated out in France. Sophie Kevany reports.

Dr Agnès Buzyn, Health Minister (Maya Angelsen)
Dr Agnès Buzyn, Health Minister (Maya Angelsen)

Agreement on new rules for a pictogram that warns pregnant women against drinking alcohol could be reached when France’s wine sector and health minister meet after the harvest, in late September, early October.

As things stand, French Health Minister Dr Agnès Buzyn, known for dismissing arguments that wine is different to spirits, wants to ramp up the existing pictogram’s size and colour.

Speaking for the wine sector, and involved in the ongoing negotiations, is Nathalie Delattre, Senator for the Gironde region (which includes Bordeaux) and co-president of the National Association of Wine and Vine Elected Representatives (ANEV).

Delattre said that while producers fully support a zero-alcohol approach during pregnancy, they prefer a minimum pictogram height of 1cm and monochrome grey-black colours for the border and diagonal line running through the silhouette of a pregnant woman drinking.

The Minister, by contrast, wants a minimum height of 1.4cm and a red border and diagonal bar. Delattre also objects to the way the wine sector has been involved in discussions about the changes.

‘‘We support the logo … but we want to work in a collaborative way with the Minister. She wants consultation not co-construction,’’ Delattre told Wine Business International. ‘‘The third colour has cost implications and we also know that addiction experts say logos by themselves have little impact on behaviour. [That means] we need a much broader public information campaign.’’

Rumblings about pictogram changes date back to early 2017 but, according to the original 2006 law passed, no specific height requirements exist and the colours are a grey, black, white gradient.

Describing the wine sector as ‘‘the most harassed profession in France,’’ Delattre said her hope is the issue will be resolved quickly so the sector can move forward. If changes were passed into law, the new size and colour could be expected to come into effect in the next year or two.

Buzyn, a haematologist, has previously upset the French wine industry by describing wine as ‘‘an alcohol like any other’’ and points out that alcohol-related disease is the second biggest cause of death in France after smoking, killing just over 40,000 people a year.

Last year, in a television interview with France 2, Buzyn said she has three alcohol-related public health targets. Preventing alcohol consumption during pregnancy, reducing chronic alcohol addiction and tackling binge drinking, particularly by young adults and teenagers.

Contacted for comment on the pictogram changes, the French health department said it had no available expert.  

Sophie Kevany

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