Nutrition Labels for Alcohol Beverages

Ever wonder how many carbohydrates or how much cholesterol might be in your favorite alcohol beverage? The labels don’t provide this information, although it’s required on other food and beverage containers.

Fortunately, the National Consumers League and the Center for Science in the Public Interest have petitioned the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to revise the information provided on alcohol beverage container labels

These proposal calls for labels to list:

  1. The alcohol content per serving. Of great value to consumers would be listing the number of drinks per container. This would help eliminate the common but dangerous misperception that a drink of liquor contains more alcohol than a beer. Consumers need to know that standard drinks of beer, wine and distilled spirits contain equivalent amounts of alcohol; to a Breathalyzer they’re all the same.
  2. The US Department of Agriculture’s definition of moderate drinking. This is acceptable, although it specifies fewer drinks per day that does the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
  3. The number of calories per serving. Many consumers, especially those who are weight- conscious, would use this information. There’s not room on a label to provide medical research evidence that calories from alcohol beverages don’t seem to add weight, and that consumption is often associated with slight weight loss in women. Because the scientific research on this subject is not yet conclusive, there is no harm in simply listing caloric content with no elaboration
  4. Ingredients, knowledge of which might be useful to some people with certain allergies.

The only problem with the proposal is that it doesn’t go far enough -- it’s a halfway measure. Seriously lacking is a call for some of the basic nutritional information of great interest to most Americans.

The proposal might help those with rare allergies but ignore the vast majority of Americans who care greatly about fat (total and saturated), cholesterol, carbohydrates and sodium. Although useful, the proposal doesn’t call for listing any nutrients on nutritional labels!

Alcohol beverage nutrition labels should include the nutritional information desired by the vast majority of American consumers.


  • National Consumers League and Center for Science in the Public Interest plus others including AA Newsletter, National Woman’s Christian Union, Sober Living Network, and Faces and Voices of Recovery. Petition to Improve Mandatory Label Information on Alcoholic Beverages.