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Consumer groups push for mandatory alcohol labeling

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January 13, 2014
Contact: NCL Communications, Ben Klein, (202) 835-3323,  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Washington, DC—With the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) holding a public meeting this week to hear testimony and consider comments regarding changes to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, consumer advocates are urging the committee to endorse mandatory alcohol labeling and to maintain the definition of a “standard” drink.

Every five years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) work collaboratively to release new Dietary Guidelines. Presently, no law exists requiring alcoholic beverages to have nutrition labels, although some alcoholic beverages, such as Guinness beer, voluntarily include nutrition labels. Current labeling requirements for alcoholic beverages are inadequate, leaving consumers guessing about the nutritional composition of their drinks.  Consumer groups have long advocated that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the federal agency that regulates alcohol sales, require nutritional labels on all alcoholic beverages.

The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization, in conjunction with the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), submitted comments urging the committee to endorse mandatory alcohol labeling and to maintain the definition of a standard drink as containing 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol. 

 “Alcoholic beverages are the only major source of calories in the American diet that are not required to be labeled with the basic information needed to follow the Dietary Guidelines,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL’s Executive Director. “The nutrition facts panel on other food and beverage products is a vital tool for consumers. Without nutrition facts panel on alcohol, consumers are left in the dark when trying to adhere to Dietary Guidelines. This is a significant lapse in the effort to fight obesity and a great disservice to America consumers.” 

The DGAC does not have the ability to mandate alcohol labeling, but it can do more to encourage TTB to require alcoholic beverage producers to provide complete nutrition facts panels on their products. NCL and CFA hope to work with USDA and HHS in their quest to provide consumers with information regarding calorie content, carbohydrates, protein, and fat on alcoholic beverage labels.  

To read the NCL/CFA comments, click here (PDF).

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit http://www.nclnet.org.