Menus Will Sport New Calorie Labels for Alcohol

The rules could have advantages too, he said.

“The more customers know about a brewery, the more they feel connected with it,” Gatza said.

Off the menu, labeling rules appear further away.

For years, most alcohol companies have tried to put off mandatory bottle and can nutrition labeling as public health advocates have fought for it. Rules proposed in 2007 would have made such labels mandatory, but the FDA never made the rules final.

Last year, Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau said for the first time that beer, wine and spirits companies could use labels that include serving size, servings per container, calories, carbohydrates, protein and fat per serving. The labels are voluntary and will likely be used mostly by liquor companies touting low calories and low carbohydrates in their products.

Current labeling law for bottles and cans is complicated.

Wines containing 14 percent or more alcohol by volume must list alcohol content. Wines that are 7 percent to 14 percent alcohol by volume may list alcohol content or put “light” or “table” wine on the label. “Light” beers must list calorie and carbohydrate content. Liquor must list percent alcohol content by volume and may also list proof, a measure of alcoholic strength.

Wine, beer and liquor manufacturers don’t have to list ingredients but must list substances people might be sensitive to, such as sulfites, certain food colorings and aspartame.

Tom Hogue of the Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau said the current goal is to make sure that companies that want to label may do so, and that labeling is consistent. It is important that labels “don’t mislead the consumer,” he said.

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