Death prompts call for booze risk labels

Last updated 13:29 22/11/2012

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Every alcoholic drink should carry a label warning of the death risks if consumed in excessive amounts, a coroner has recommended.

The comments come in the wake of a Pukekohe man's death. William Paki, 56, died on New Years Eve 2011 from alcohol toxicity.

In his findings, released today, coroner JP Ryan said Paki would have been unaware of the "inherent danger of the consumption of a large quantity of alcohol".

Paki and his partner, Margaret Edwards, attended a family gathering at a property in Pukekohe on December 30. During the course of the evening Paki drank a significant quantity of alcohol, which included a mixture of beer, wine and spirits.

At some point during the evening Paki walked to his vehicle and lay down in the rear compartment which had been made into a bed. About 1.15am the next day Edwards went to check on Paki and found him dead.

An autopsy found that Paki had a blood alcohol level of 320 milligrams of alcohol per 100mls of blood and it was likely the alcohol, at such a high level, had acted as a central nervous system depressant.

Ryan said it was a "constant source of concern to me that a product, which can result in the death of consumer when drunk in excess, is able to be sold without any warning to the consumer."

Ryan said he had made previous recommendations for warnings on alcohol bottles to "no effect" and so felt "compelled to reiterate the need for such an inherently dangerous product to contain a warning to consumers".

He recommended that the appropriate government agency consider making it a legal requirement that "every container of alcohol carry a label warning consumers of the risk of death".

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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