Treasury Approves Voluntary Booze Labeling

Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson


The wheels of government grind slowly, to be sure, but I wonder whether the Treasury Department truly needed ten years to make this small bit of "interim" progress on alcohol labeling—and then only make it voluntary.

In a 2003 petition to the Treasury Department, CSPI, the National Consumers League, and other organizations asked for a mandatory label that made calories, alcohol by volume, and servings per container plain to see. We also asked the agency to use such a label to disclose ingredients in alcoholic beverages. (A manufacturer of lemonade must list each ingredient, but a maker of hard lemonade can conceal its main ingredients, even if dyes, sugars, preservatives, or other additives are used.)

Including fat and carbohydrates on a label could imply that an alcoholic beverage is positively healthful, especially when the drink's alcohol content isn't prominently labeled. In this era of obesity, calorie labeling is critically important to inform or remind consumers that alcoholic drinks are not "free" when it comes to calories. Finally, a really useful alcohol label would state the government's definition of moderate drinking as no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men.

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