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Australians have a great passion for their biscuits, and generally the release of a new type of biscuit is quite welcome. There are, of course, exceptions to this general proviso, particularly when the new biscuit contains a trace of alcohol -- albeit a very miniscule trace. The biscuits in question were released this week by a beloved Australian biscuit manufacturer, Arnott's (owned by the Campbell Soup company), and contain biscuits laced with a popular coffee liquor. The response to this new product was immediate, as a spokesman from the Australian Drug Foundation described the new flavours as "appalling," and commented "Can we now look forward to alcohol-flavoured corn flakes?" In response, Arnott's spokeswoman Toni Callaghan noted that individuals would have to eat their body weight in both varieties every hour to reach a blood-alcohol content of 0.05 per cent. As far as their consumption by children, she remarked that "In no way is any of our marketing geared towards children. The issue of whether children eat them lies ultimately with parents." In light of the public consternation over the issue, the Parliamentary health secretary Trish Worth asked the Department of Health to check national guidelines for the promotion and placement of alcoholic products. While the biscuit controversy will continue to develop over the coming weeks, the biscuits have not been released all across Australia as of yet, although reports from Melbourne indicate they have been moving off the supermarket shelves quite quickly.The first link will take visitors to a news story from the Herald Sun which talks about the release of these controversial biscuits. The second story is a piece from the Courier-Mail that talks about the call for a review of the promotion and placement of alcoholic products, largely as a result of the consternation about these biscuits. The third link is yet another news piece which documents the unfolding debates about the biscuits, as it announces that one MP in New Zealand, Sue Kedgley, argues that Arnott's should not be allowed to release these biscuits throughout New Zealand (It plans to do so beginning March 1). The fourth link, offered by a New Zealand food website, contains some reactions to Kedgley's proposal, including the observation that "Sue Kedgley should chill out and have a Kahlua bickie instead of trying to ban them." The fifth link leads to an interesting graph provided by the Australian Institute of Criminology that documents the changing rates of alcohol consumption within the country from 1961 to 2000. Interestingly enough, while the consumption of wine has grown significantly in this period, the consumption rate of beer has diminished since 1975. The final link will take visitors to the homepage of the Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free, which is a unique coalition working to prevent the use of alcohol, and which is sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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