Published February 28, 2012
Minister of Finance Oddný Harðardóttir told reporters that she believes that decisions recently taken by the State Alcohol and Tobacco Company of Iceland (ÁTVR) to reject the sale of two different brands of alcohol due to their labeling is fully within the spirit of the law.
As reported earlier this month, Motörhead brand shiraz was rejected for import because the name of the band “is a reference to users of the illegal drug amphetamine, and the lyrics of the band’s songs are regularly about war, the abuse of power, irresponsible sexual activity and drug abuse.” Later, Black Death beer was also rejected for import on the grounds that the message “drink in peace” written on the label is outside the bounds of what is allowed to be printed on a label of an alcoholic beverage.
These decisions have been met with a great deal of public resistance, but Minister of Finance Oddný Harðardóttir told Vísir that they are fully within the spirit of the law. The Ministry of Finance is the ministry that oversees ÁTVR.
Oddný added that she has seen labeling on alcohol that she would consider questionable. “I’ve seen Easter beer with cute little ducklings on it,” she said. “And alcohol decorated in such a way that it looks like juice.”
Almar Guðmundsson, the director of the Icelandic Federation of Trade, said that he believes the law is far too open to interpretation. He pointed out that importers take a great financial risk, and that if the law regarding alcohol labeling is unclear, they stand to take considerable losses.