Alcoholic Beverage Nutrition Labels are Needed to Help Consumers

Why aren’t there alcoholic beverage nutrition labels? Other foods and beverages have them. And they’re very helpful to consumers.

The TTB

alcoholic beverage nutrition labelsThe federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) controls alcoholic beverage labeling. Therefore, many health and consumer groups have been urging the TTB  to require alcoholic beverage nutrition labels. And they’ve been doing so for a long time.  They include the Consumer Federation of America, National Consumer League, MADD), Shape Up America!, and the American Medical Women’s Association. Nutrition labels would also help destroy a dangerous myth. It’s that a shot of whiskey has more alcohol than a beer or glass of donner wine. In fact, standard drinks of beer, wine, and spirits have the same amount of alcohol. That is, 0.6 oz of pure alcohol.

Why Alcoholic Beverage Nutrition Labels are Needed

These and other groups have asked the TTB to promote responsible drnking. It could do this by requiring information needed to make wise choices. Therefore, they want all alcoholic beverage containers to list timportant information. These are the serving size, calories per serving, alcohol content per serving, and the definition of a standard drink. Also important would be required listing of carbs, fat, sodium, protein, etc.

There have been years of bureaucratic foot-dragging and failure to develop required alcoholic beverage nutrition labels. Information on labels is essential because there’s much confusion about alcohol. For example, people often think that alcoholic drinks generally contain more calories than non-alcoholic drinks. Or that they’re bad for health. In reality alcoholic beverages tend to have, for example:

  • Moderately fewer calories than non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Many fewer grams of carbs.
  • No fat whatsoever. On the other hand, most non-alcoholic beverages contain fat.

As the following list demonstrates, the actual contents of different beverages vary widely. Therefore, it’s absolutely essential that consumers have specific nutritional information on all beverage labels for easy comparison.

Calories, carbohydrates, fat and protein found in standard servings of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages:
Beverage Calories Carbs (grams) Fat (grams)
Alcoholic
Beer (regular) 153 13 .00
Beer (lite) 103 6 .00
All Distilled Spirits (rum, vodka, whiskey, gin, tequila, bourbon, etc.) 97 .00 .00
Wine (red) 125 3.5 .000
Wine (white) 120 3.5 .000
Non-Alcoholic
Apple juice (unsweetened) 114 28 .32
Apricot juice 141 36 .23
Carbonated cola 137 35 .07
Grape juice (unsweetened) 152 37 .33
Grapefruit juice (unsweetened) 96 23 .25
Lemonade 99 26 .10
Milk (2% fat) 122 12 4.83
Orange juice (unsweetened) 112 26 .5
Prune juice 182 45 .08
Tangerine juice (unsweetened) 125 30 .50
Tomato juice 41 10 .12

Source:  USDA Nat Nutrient Database for Standard Ref, . Available at www.nal.usda.gov/.

Public Wants Required Labels

A national poll conducted for the National Consumer League by Opinion Research Corporation found that the vast majority favor having access to the following information:

  • Alcohol content (93%).alcoholic beverage nutrition labels
  • Amount of alcohol per serving (87%).
  • Number of calories per serving (83%).
  • Serving size (82%).
  • Servings per container (81%).
  • Carbs per serving (79%).
  • Fat per serving (77%).
  • Protein per serving (70%).

Consumers both want and need nutritional label information on the calories, carbs, and fat contained in what they eat and drink.

alcoholic beverage nutrition labels
Standard Drinks

Nutrition labels would also help destroy a dangerous myth. It’s that a shot of whiskey has more alcohol than a beer or glass of donner wine. In fact, standard drinks of beer, wine, and spirits have the same amount of alcohol. That is, 0.6 oz of pure alcohol.

This is an important fact for consumers. Both for their health and their safety.

Resources on Alcoholic Beverage Nutrition Labels:

  • Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. What You Should Know about Grape Wine Labels. TTB pub 5190.1.
  • ______. What You Should Know about Distilled Spirits Labels. TTB pub 5190.2,
  • ______. What You Should Know about Malt Beverage Labels. TTB pub 5190.3.
  • Cameron, D. Standard label info… Indiana Bev J 2010, 66(8), 4.
  • Nutritional Labels Eyed For Alcoholic Beverages WCCO.com, May 24, 2016.
  • Rose, D. Tories will label alcohol to encourage socially responsible drinking. The Times, Jan 14, 2010.

Filed Under: Diet