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03.2008

Massachusetts Beverage Business

archivedAtPressTime

Alcohol Labeling Proposal

Article By: MBB

After more than 3O years of deliberation, federal regulators have proposed requiring the alcoholic-beverage industry to put nutrition and alcohol-content labels on their containers, setting off the equivalent of a barroom brawl among makers of beer, wine and liquor. Pushed by consumer groups, the US Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for the first time would mandate disclosure of how many carbohydrates and calories and how much protein and fat alcoholic drinks contain, as food labels do. How and where to disclose alcohol content is generating heat.
“We find it astonishing” that regulators would propose a nutrition label “without requiring that it include information on alcohol content,’’ said George Hacker, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s alcohol policies project. The agency said it recommended allowing the alcohol-by-volume statement to be placed anywhere on the container to conform to an international trade agreement on wine.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit advocacy group, first petitioned the agency for ingredient labels in 1972, long before Americans became accustomed to reading nutrition facts on food packages. It filed another one in late 2OO3 that asked for a list of ingredients, the alcohol content and a message, like the one in the government’s dietary guidelines. Former surgeon general C. Everett Koop urged the agency “to get it right” by “mandating standardized information about the alcohol content as part of the Serving Facts panel.” A key issue is the amount of alcohol in a drink, which the proposal makes optional. Distillers prefer a standard measure of O.6 ounces in a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine or a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. -Washington Post

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