For years, the alcohol beverage industry has been successful in keeping the government from requiring the type of labeling on alcohol that’s found on packaged food.
However, three consumer organizations – the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, and National Consumers League – sued the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau or TTB in October.
The groups won and the TTB has agreed to issue proposed rules requiring standardized alcohol content, calorie, and allergen labeling on all beer, wine, and distilled spirits products. The TTB also agreed to begin preliminary rulemaking on mandatory ingredient labeling.
The TTB’s decision comes after it failed to act on a 2003 petition to require alcohol labeling with the same information on non-alcoholic beverages and food products. The petition, submitted to the TTB by 69 consumer and health organizations and eight individuals, including four deans of schools of public health, stated the labeling is needed based on evidence that alcohol is a significant source of empty calories and increases the risk of some cancers, alcohol use disorders, traffic accidents, and severe injuries.
“Better labeling requirements for alcoholic beverages will allow consumers to make more informed decisions,” said Thomas Gremillion, director of food policy at the 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.”
Hopefully, it won’t take two more decades for the TTB to finalize the rules and the alcohol industry won’t be able to quash this latest effort.