Request for leadership to accelerate publication of promised alcohol labeling rules

A coalition letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen

For over 20 years, advocates have been pressing TTB to require a “Serving Facts” label that tells consumers the serving size, amount of alcohol (in fluid ounces or grams) and calories per serving, the percent alcohol by volume, the number of standard drinks per container and other needed information to make responsible drinking decisions. In response, TTB deliberated, asked for public comment, issued draft rules requiring mandatory labeling that were never finalized, and in 2013, settled on a voluntary rule that has been largely ineffective.

Click the link below to read the letter in its entirety.

Overconsumption of alcohol is a costly public health problem that has become much worse in recent years, as alcohol-related deaths have risen substantially. Alcohol is also a source of empty calories that contribute to obesity, and can impact blood sugar control in people with diabetes. Additionally, alcohol is a roadway killer accounting for about 30 percent of all traffic crash fatalities in the U.S., and excessive drinking increases the risk of liver disease, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, alcohol use disorders, certain cancers, and severe injuries. The failure to list allergens is of particular concern. Unlike other foods and beverages, manufacturers of TTB-regulated beer, wine and distilled spirits are not required to declare the presence of major allergens, which may be used as processing agents or as ingredients. The disclosure of allergen information is a life-and-death matter for some consumers and is the reason why the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 requires allergen labeling on all Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-regulated foods and beverages. However, FALCPA does not apply to most alcoholic beverages, and even though a 2004 House committee report on FALCPA stated Congress’s intent that TTB develop allergen labeling requirements for beer, wine and distilled spirits, the agency has not finalized a mandatory rule – 20 years later. The FDA also has authority over the labeling of some alcoholic beverage products, notably wines containing less than 7 percent alcohol by volume (e.g., some hard ciders and wine coolers) and beers not made from malted barley or hops (e.g., some hard seltzers). For these alcoholic beverages, FDA requires the same Nutrition Facts panel and ingredients statements that it requires on nonalcoholic beverages, from soft drinks to juices, and alcohol companies comply. Thus, there is proof that manufacturers have the ability to put standardized “Serving Facts” labels on beer, wine, and distilled spirits products – many just prefer to withhold this information from their customers. "Kenneth Mendez" "Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America" "Peter Lurie" "Center for Science in the Public Interest" "Thomas Gremillion" "Consumer Federation of America" "Jason Linde" "FARE" "Sally Greenberg" "National Consumers League"