Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau agreed to begin a new rulemaking process on proposals to require standardized alcohol content, calorie, and allergen labeling on all beer, wine and distilled spirits products. TTB also agreed to begin preliminary rulemaking on mandatory ingredient labeling.
Announcement of the decision was made in a letter to three consumer organizations – Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, and the National Consumers League – that sued TTB on Oct. 3, 2022, for failing to act on a 2003 petition to require alcohol labeling with the same basic transparency consumers expect for non-alcoholic beverages and food products.
In the letter TTB said it will initiate a new rulemaking on the issues of nutrient content labeling, expanded alcohol content labeling, major food allergen labeling and ingreident labeling.
TTB noted that numerical alcohol content statements are required currently on all distilled spirits labels and on wines containing more than 14% alcohol by volume. Wines with between 7% and 14% alcohol/volume "may be stated, but need not be stated if the type deisgnation 'table' wine (or 'light' wine) appears on the brnad label. Finally, alcohol content statements re required for malt beverages only if they contain alcohol from added nonbeverage flavors or other added nonbeverage ingredients other than haps extract containing alcohol.
In a 2021 letter to the Treasury Secretary, the three consumer groups asked that TTB issue a rulemaking based upon their 2003 petition. But TTB noted that the Administrative Procedures Act does not permit TTB to issue such a rule without engaging in notice and comment. This is especially pertinent since the groups requested several items that weren't even mentioned in the 2003 petition, such as "standard drink" information, moderate consumption advice and mandatory ingredience labeling. TTB said it will solicit comment on all the 2003 proposals plus the new items.
Consumer Groups Hail Announcement
“This is a groundbreaking day for consumers,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director, National Consumers League. “Consumer advocates have been trying for 19 years to get this far. Now there is light at the end of the tunnel. We thank the TTB for finally taking this action and look forward to working closely with the agency, the industry, and other consumer advocates to make sure this is done right and that consumers are the winners.”
“All we have requested over these two long decades is the kind of information that consumers expect when purchasing other foods and beverages,” said Peter Lurie, Executive Director, Center for Science in the Public Interest. “We hope TTB can move quickly on this long overdue action.”
“Better labeling requirements for alcoholic beverages will allow consumers to make more informed decisions,” said Thomas Gremillion, Director of Food Policy, Consumer Federation of America. “Consumers have a right to consistent, reliable, and relevant information about the products they buy. For too long, the alcohol industry has kept consumers in the dark, and TTB’s announcement is an important step forward.”
We invited comment from DISCUS, Beer Institute and Wine Institute.