France proposes health warnings on wine

  • Thursday 1 December 2005

French wine professionals are up in arms over the government’s proposal to put cigarette-style health warnings on bottles of wine.

The plan follows on from a government report into alcohol-related deaths and addictions compiled by Hervé Chabalier, head of the Capa television agency and a former alcoholic.

Chabalier found that 5m people in France regularly abuse alcohol and 2m are addicted.

Chabalier’s report has had a massive impact with all major French newspapers covering the story. It has further polarised lobbying groups in the pro-wine and pro-health camps.

Calling these plans ‘an insult to culture’, Parti d’En Boire (‘the drinkers’ party’) a pro-wine pressure group, sent an open letter to newspapers and wine professionals across France and Europe, making a case for self-responsibility and denouncing the over-protective lifestyle.

‘Crossing a road can be fatal – although there are no signs at each pedestrian crossing saying “Attention, crossing a road can kill”. Stop scaring us,’ it says.

The argument between the two sides has again opened up the question of whether or not wine is considered part of France’s culture – and thus to some degree exempt from general alcohol warnings.

The French Health Ministry has yet to confirm whether or not the warnings will apply to all alcoholic drinks although it is thought likely.

The project follows on from an EU directive that came into force on Friday obliging winemakers to place ‘Contains Sulphites’ on wine bottles for sale across Europe.

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