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Ireland to label alcoholic drinks with health warnings

FILE PHOTO: Beer bottles from all over the world are on display at the Hop museum in Wolnzach

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland will introduce mandatory health labelling of alcoholic drinks, warning of the links to cancer, liver disease and the risk of drinking while pregnant.

The new regulations, signed into law by health minister Stephen Donnelly on Monday, will take effect in three years to give businesses time to prepare for the change. It will also alert consumers to the calorie and alcohol content.

Other countries include warnings on alcohol products, but Ireland's regulations are intended to be more comprehensive.

"This law is designed to give all of us as consumers a better understanding of the alcohol content and health risks associated with consuming alcohol," said Donnelly.

"I welcome that we are the first country in the world to take this step."

He said the law would bring alcohol packaging into line with other food and drink products, which already contain health information and warnings.

The move has led several of Ireland's major trading partners to raise concerns with the European Commission. Nine EU members, including France, have submitted unfavourable opinions in response to the plans.

(Reporting by Graham Fahy; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)