Alcohol Nutrition Labels Needed: They Should List More than Calories

Beverage alcohol nutrition labels are needed. They should include not only calories but also other information. That includes fats, cholesterol, and sodium or salt.

alcohol nutrition labels
A suggested useful alcohol nutrition label.

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.

Nutritionaql Information

This table gives nutritional information.

FoodCaloriesTotal FatSaturated FatCholesterolSodium
Quarter Pounder43021 g8 g70 mg770 mg
Regular Beer14600018 mg
Shot of Liquor (whiskey,
rum, vodka, etc.)
97000Trace
Glass of Red Wine890005 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

Books

alcohol nutrition labelsCalder, 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.

Web Pages

Note

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.