Beverage alcohol nutrition labels are needed. They should include not only calories but also other information. That includes fats, cholesterol, and sodium or salt.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) proposes nutrition labels on alcoholic beverages. Its proposal is a good one but doesn’t go far enough. It only calls for labeling the caloric content of an alcoholic drink. But Americans also care about such important things as total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and salt.
By only calling for caloric information, the CSPI proposal leads to erroneous conclusions For example, in reporting the CSPI proposal, one newspaper gave the story a misleading headline. It was “Three Budweisers equal a Quarter Pounder.” By only calling for caloric information, the CSPI proposal leads to such a false conclusion.
The erroneous conclusion is that drinking a regular beer is one-third as bad for health as eating a very big hamburger. Of course, lite beers have fewer calories than a regular beer. For example, a Bud Select 55 has only 55 calories. But even comparing a regular beer is misleading. That’s because a hamburger is loaded with fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and salt.
This table gives nutritional information.
|Food||Calories||Total Fat||Saturated Fat||Cholesterol||Sodium|
|Quarter Pounder||430||21 g||8 g||70 mg||770 mg|
|Regular Beer||146||0||0||0||18 mg|
|Shot of Liquor (whiskey,|
rum, vodka, etc.)
|Glass of Red Wine||89||0||0||0||5 mg|
Label information on calories, fats, cholesterol, sodium, and other information is very useful to consumers. Millions of people use nutrition labels to help them make wise diet and health decisions. And consumers have a right to know the contents of what they eat and drink.
However, a nutrition label that only lists calories is a deceptive and misleading label.
Resources: Alcohol Nutrition Labels Needed
Calder, P. Nutrition. London:n CRC, 2018.
Insel, P. et al. Discovering Nutrition. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett, 2019.
Whitney, E. et al. Understanding Nutrition. S. Melbourne, Vic: Cenage, 2019.
- Alcoholic Beverage Nutrition Labels are Needed to Help Consumers
- Alcohol Labeling Public Support: Strongly Favors Nutritional Labels
- CSPI on Drinking and Smoking: Center for Science in the Public Interest
- Alcohol Calories and Weight
- Alcohol and Health
Nutritional data for Quarter Pounder obtained from McDonald Restaurants. Nutritional information for regular beer, 80 proof distilled spirits, and red wine obtained from USDA. Gebhard, S. and Thomas, R. Nutritional Value of Foods. Washington, DC: USDA Bull #72.