Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Alcohol Labels Under Obama Administration?

Quick post, as I have an Antitrust final tomorrow. The TTB is getting increased pressure to add the alcoholic beverage equivalent of Nutrition Labels to all beer, wine and alcohol sold in the US. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking can be found here, you can comment if you want to. Here's the proposal:
TTB proposes to amend its regulations to require a statement of alcohol content, expressed as a percentage of alcohol by volume, on all alcohol beverage products. This statement may appear on any label affixed to the container. TTB also proposes to require a Serving Facts panel on alcohol beverage labels, which would include a statement of calories, carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Industry members may also choose to disclose on the Serving Facts panel the number of U.S. fluid ounces of pure alcohol (ethyl alcohol) per serving as part of a statement that includes alcohol content expressed as a percentage of alcohol by volume. The proposed regulations would also specify new reference serving sizes for wine, distilled spirits, and malt beverages base on the amount of beverage customarily consumed as a single serving. However, TTB is not defining a standard drink in this document. We proposed to make these new requirements mandatory three years after the date of publication of a final rule on these matters. TTB proposes these amendments to ensure that alcohol beverage labels provide consumers with adequate information about the product.
The labels might look something like this:

(Image from this article at WSU.)

As you can see the alcohol %, serving size, and calories are displayed. This could cause trouble for some 'lite' beers, which typically still have around 100 calories and some carbs. Very interesting...

Also, though a cocktail might have more calories, it won't have a label when it's served to you. Could this hurt bottle sales? "OMiGod, did you know Miller Lite has 96 calories!?! I'm going to have a Cosmo..." (140 or so calories)

Finally, since the TTB is not defining a standard 'drink', could someone like Dogfish put a "Servings Per Container: 4" on one of their big beers, like World Wide Stout or 120 Minute IPA? After all, 120 Minute weighs in at 450 calories a bottle! (Not that we care...) Or could Miller Lite put that on and claim "Only 24 calories a (4oz) serving!"

More at Bevlog.

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The Twentyfirst Amendment Meets the 21st Century by Russell Hews Everett is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. The opinions expressed on this page are purely my own, and should not be taken to constitute legal representation or advice.