attention all pregnant machine operators!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Your friendly government minions, ever eager to please, have put together a wonderful collection of sample wine labels here.

The breezy introduction reads “Have you already read the wine labeling regulations in 27 CFR § 4 and the Health Warning regulations in 27 CFR § 16 but are still not confident that your label design will receive a Certificate of Label Approval? Have you reviewed the Federal Alcohol Administration Act but been left wanting? Then this booklet is for you! The Advertising, Labeling and Formulation Division created this to provide examples of approvable wine labels along with additional comments to further explain some aspects of the labeling rules.”

Well, they had me at “still not confident”! If there’s anything I want my wine labels to be, it’s confident. And I confess that the basic, generic table wine label warning, though ubiquitous, simply doesn’t answer all of my questions.

In case you have not taken the time to read you warning labels recently, here's a sample:

RED TABLE WINE
BOTTLED BY XYZ WINERY, CITY, STATE
GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) ACCORDING TO THE SURGEON GENERAL, WOMEN SHOULD NOT DRINK ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES DURING PREGNANCY BECAUSE OF THE RISK OF BIRTH DEFECTS. (2) CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES IMPAIRS YOUR ABILITY TO DRIVE A CAR OR OPERATE MACHINERY, AND MAY CAUSE HEALTH PROBLEMS.

The points are well taken. Women should not drink alcoholic beverage during pregnancy, and the short list of undesirable consequences referenced above (birth defects, poor driving, health problems) doesn’t begin to scratch the surface. I would add that no one should operate firearms after drinking, or invest in the stock market, or visit a casino. Don’t shoot off fireworks, play pick-up basketball, or talk politics either. I mean, if warning labels are to be truly valuable, they need to get a lot bigger, wouldn’t you agree?

Other countries are way ahead of us on this. According to Wikipedia, New Zealand and Australia require allergen warnings. European Union countries must warn consumers about wines treated with casein and ovalbumin (no relation to Ovaltine, as far as I am aware).

I don’t know about you, but for me, pregnancy is no obstacle to drinking. But ovalbumin raises the hairs on the back of my neck.

When warning labels became mandatory – sometime back in the 1980s I think – they were a bit of a novelty, then an annoyance. They take up a lot of valuable space! Pre-warning label wines were still common back then, and it was fun to drink a bottle or two and then see if there were any pregnant women in the group interested in taking the old bulldozer out for a spin. Nowadays, it’s hard to find a bottle without a warning label. They’re on beer cans, vodka bottles, wine in boxes and every other kind of package. I wouldn't be surprised to see them on bottled water: GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) ACCORDING TO THE SURGEON GENERAL,THIS PRODUCT MAY CONTAIN BOTH HYDROGEN AND OXYGEN!

Does any of it matter? Or even register? Admit it – we all breeze right past them. We no longer take the time to read them carefully and really think about the important messages they convey.

I say, if you are going to do it, do it right! An article in an Australian newspaper points the way here.

Stop hiding them on the back of the bottle. Put them on the front! Make them HUGE! And maybe then we'll get all those pregnant backhoe drivers off the road.

1 comment:

gabriel jagle said...

my wife is a midwife, and says that scientific data shows that five drinks a day or more can lead to birth defects. anything less than that, the science is inconclusive.

as for casein, i believe there are some rare but intense food allergies, so i can imagine there are a small percentage of people who would actually find that information relevant

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