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04.2014

Massachusetts Beverage Business

AtPressTime

NO WINE ICE CREAM IN LOUISIANA

Mercer’s Dairy Wine Ice Cream has been causing quite a buzz over the last year with its fun flavors that contain actual wine. As it gains popularity, it has also seen demand rising in states across the US. And while Louisiana may seem like a natural place for spiked ice cream to be available, the good time state is being a stickler about the spiked dessert. Wine Ice Cream will need action by legislators before it can hit grocers’ freezers. The reason: A state law exception that protects confectioneries. State Alcohol and Tobacco Control Commissioner Troy Hebert said that he consulted legal experts after New York ‘s Mercer’s Dairy sought permission to sell alcohol-laced ice cream flavors in Louisiana. Hebert’s request resulted in a flurry of legal research on where wine ice cream falls under state law. An Attorney General’s Office opinion lists the possibilities: Is it an alcoholic beverage, a beverage of low alcoholic content or an adulterated food? The verdict is that wine ice cream is an adulterated food like boozy bonbons or fruitcake, but without an exception built into state law so it can be sold in the state.

The reasons for why the ice cream cannot be sold in Louisiana are contained in a five-page opinion that the state Attorney General’s Office released. They first concluded that the ice cream is not an alcoholic beverage since it contains less than 6 percent alcohol. Caldwell’s office then looked at the language on beverages of low alcoholic content and determined the ice cream – with an alcohol content of up to 5 percent – seemed to fit there. However, state law goes on to say that the definition does not apply to flavoring, extracts, syrup, or food products. The exclusions led the office to a section on adulterated foods, which are prohibited in Louisiana. Exceptions have been built in by legislators for confectioneries containing alcohol but not for ice cream. The ice cream has a relatively low alcohol content. “If you ate maybe a quart of wine ice cream, it would be like half a glass of regular wine,” he said. Hebert said legislators can address the issue if they want to buy wine ice cream in Louisiana. Seems like a lot of complicated work for a state that is legendary for its libations.

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