Less than 5 per cent of Australian women can recall pregnancy health warnings on alcohol, a review has found.
An evaluation of voluntary warning labels was carried out for Federal and State ministers in charge of food regulation who last month agreed to continue with industry health messages for at least another two years rather than impose mandatory labelling.
The review found that, unprompted, only 5.7 per cent of 5400 people surveyed were aware of the pregnancy warnings on alcohol.
Only 4.3 per cent of the target group of pregnant women, those planning to become pregnant and new mothers recalled seeing messages on alcoholic products.
It also found that only 38 per cent of alcohol products carried the warnings, although when commonly consumed drinks were adjusted for market share, the figure rose to 62 per cent.
McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth director Mike Daube, a critic of the industry's Drinkwise messages, said the results showed poor uptake of the industry's own labelling.
"They put some focus on uptake in 'market-leading' products as being better than the rest, though even they are not very impressive, but overall 38 per cent uptake is embarrassingly low," Professor Daube said.
"We have poor uptake of a feeble warning, with less than 5 per cent awareness in the target group, and yet ministers have given it the green light for at least another two years.
"It's a big win for the drinks industry and a big loss for women and children's health."
But Brewers Association chief executive Denita Wawn said the results showed the industry had taken on board calls to include the health messages.
"But while these are important prompts, they can't be seen in isolation from other measures, and can't compare with the information women get from their health professional or GP," Ms Wawn said.