The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has made an interim ruling providing guidelines for how alcoholic beverages can voluntarily include “truthful, accurate and specific” statements about nutrient content, including calories and carbohydrates, on their labels.
The interim guidelines explain what’s permissible, for the time being, in “Serving Facts” or average analysis statements on packaging for wines, spirits and malt beverages, respectively.
In 2007, TTB proposed a rule (“Labeling and Advertising of Wines, Distilled Spirits and Malt Beverages”) for new, mandatory labeling requirements for all alcoholic beverages, including a Serving Facts panel bearing certain calorie and nutrient information.
Since that rulemaking procedure is still underway (TTB is still reviewing the “many comments” it received), the interim ruling provides guidance on nutrients labeling for alcoholic beverage makers that wish to use such labeling.
In 2003, The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the National Consumers League, and other organizations petitioned TTB for a mandatory label that would clearly state calories, alcohol by volume, and servings per container. They also asked the agency to use such a label to disclose ingredients in alcoholic beverages.
“Including fat and carbohydrates on a label could imply that an alcoholic beverage is positively healthful, especially when the drink’s alcohol content isn’t prominently labeled,” CSPI stated in a release about the TTB’s interim alcohol-labeling ruling. “In this era of obesity, calorie labeling is critically important to inform or remind consumers that alcoholic drinks are not ‘free’ when it comes to calories. A really useful alcohol label would [also] state the government’s definition of moderate drinking as no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men.”