Consumers have a right to know the contents of what they eat and drink. Millions of people rely on nutrition labels to help them make health and diet choices. Research has found that label information on packaged food and drinks is very useful. It helps 76% of people make decisions on what to buy. So the fact is simple about alcohol labeling. In short, alcohol labeling public support is strong.
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But how much fat is in your favorite beer. How much protein is in your glass of merlot. Or how many carbs are in your gin? It’s impossible to find out. That’s because of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). It prohibits beer, wine and spirits companies from providing any of those facts on labels!
A number of consumer and nutrition groups have called for an end to this restriction. As a result, consumers would have the facts they need to make wise choices.
Survey Results: Alcohol Labeling Public Support is Strong
A national sample of adults in the U.S. age 21 or older found these facts.
- 61% support nutritional labels on alcohol containers,
- 79% prefer a label with alcohol facts. That is, alcohol per serving, alcohol by volume and what standard drinks are.
- 70%-82% find the alcohol and nutritional facts on proposed labels easy to understand.
- “Alcohol content by serving” was rated as the important fact to have on labels (69%). And it was the most likely to be read (65%).
- Only 47% know that a standard drink of regular beer is. Only 39% know what a standard drink of wine is. And only 22% know what a standard drink of distilled spirits is.
- After being told what a standard drink is, most (85%) think this fact helpful.
- After hearing what a standard drink is, it was the second most helpful piece of alcohol fact (55%).
Nutrition in Popular Beverages
The calories, carbohydrates and fat content of beverages is important to lose or maintain weight. That’s because we tend to be unaware of just how fattening some beverages really are. The following list shows the calories, carbs and fat found in standard servings of both alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages.
|Beverage||Calories||Carbs (grams)||Fat (grams)|
|All Distilled Spirits (rum, vodka, whiskey, gin, tequila, bourbon, etc.)|
|Apple juice (unsweetened)|
|Grape juice (unsweetened)|
|Grapefruit juice (unsweetened)|
|Milk (2% fat)|
|Orange juice (unsweetened)|
|Tangerine juice (unsweetened)|
So most alcohol beverages have fewer calories than most non-alcohol ones. Yet alcohol beverages contain no fat and are very low in carbohydrates.
For whatever reason, numerous studies have shown that drinking alcohol tends not to increase weight. And among women, it is often linked with slight weight lossest. That’s even better news than the figures listed above would suggest. Learn more at Alcohol, Calories and Weight: Surprising Facts Unknown to Most M.D.s.
Standard servings of beer, wine, and spirits all contain the same amount of pure alcohol. Each has six-tenths of an ounce. A standard drink is any of these below.
- A 12-ounce bottle or can of regular beer.
- A 5-ounce glass of dinner wine.
- A drink of one and 1/2 ounce of spirits (either straight or in a mixed drink).
Knowing about alcohol equivalence can help people drink in moderation. The American Dietetic Association says it well. “Knowing the facts of beverage alcohol equivalence is a crucial aspect of responsible drinking.” For example, people won’t be fooled by the misleading term “hard liquor.” That implies that drinking spirits leads more quickly to intoxication than beer or wine.
The drivers manuals of most states emphasize alcohol equivalence and its importance. So do these.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- American Dietetic Association.
- National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
- American Heart Association.
- National Kidney Foundation.
- American Diabetes Association.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
- American Gastroenterological Association.
- National Consumers League
- American Public Health Association.
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
- American Academy of Family Physicians.
- and many others.
Sources: Alcohol Labeling Public Support