Nearly two decades after three consumer organizations requested mandatory federal alcohol labeling, rules are in the works that would require alcohol and calorie content and allergen declarations on beer, wine and distilled spirits labels.
Last week, the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) agreed to issue proposed rules in response to a 2003 petition from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the Consumer Federation of America and the National Consumers League.
The groups sued the TTB last month because it alleged that the agency failed to act on their petition.
They are seeking an Alcohol Facts panel to be placed on alcohol beverages similar to the Nutrition Facts panel on food labels and the “Supplement Facts” panel on labels of dietary supplements.
“All we have requested over these two long decades is the kind of information that consumers expect when purchasing other foods and beverages,” CSPI executive director Peter Lurie said in a statement yesterday.
“We hope TTB can move quickly on this long overdue action.”
The groups cited evidence that alcohol is a “significant source of empty calories and increases the risk of certain cancers, alcohol use disorders, traffic accidents and severe injuries.”
The 2003 petition called for listing the amount of alcohol and calories per serving, the percent of alcohol by volume, the serving size, the number of standard drinks per container and “other needed information to make fully informed drinking decisions.”
In its defense, the TTB said last week that it responded to the 2003 petition in 2005 by soliciting public comment “on a wide range of alcohol beverage labeling and advertisement issues, if any,” the agency should propose.
In response to comments the TTB received, in 2006 it issued an interim rule allowing the voluntary use of allergen statements on alcohol beverage labels. That was followed by a 2007 proposed rule regarding calorie and nutrient information on alcohol labels.
Neither resulted in the issuance of a final rule, and both initiatives were withdrawn in 2017.