Why aren’t there alcoholic beverage nutrition labels? Other foods and beverages have them. And they’re very helpful to consumers.
The federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) controls alcoholic beverage labeling. So 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.
Why Alcoholic Beverage Nutrition Labels are Needed
These and other groups have asked the TTB to promote responsible drinking. It could do this by requiring facts needed to make wise choices. Therefore, they want all alcoholic beverage containers to list important facts.
These are the serving size, calories per serving, alcohol content per serving, and the definition of a standard drink. Also required listing of carbs, fat, sodium, protein, etc.
There have been years of bureaucratic foot-dragging. It’s failed to develop required alcohol nutrition labels. Facts on labels is essential because there’s much confusion about alcohol.
For instance, people often think that alcoholic drinks generally have more calories than non-alcoholic drinks. Or that they’re bad for health. In reality, alcoholic beverages tend to have these, 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 shows, the actual contents of different beverages vary widely. So it’s essential that consumers have specific nutritional facts on all beverage labels for easy comparison.
|Beverage||Calories||Carbs (grams)||Fat (grams)|
|All Distilled Spirits (rum, vodka, whiskey, gin, tequila, bourbon, etc.)||97||.00||.00|
|Apple juice (unsweetened)||114||28||.32|
|Grape juice (unsweetened)||152||37||.33|
|Grapefruit juice (unsweetened)||96||23||.25|
|Milk (2% fat)||122||12||4.83|
|Orange juice (unsweetened)||112||26||.5|
|Tangerine juice (unsweetened)||125||30||.50|
Source: USDA Natl Nutrient Database
Public Wants Required Labels
A national poll conducted for the National Consumer League by Opinion Research found that the vast majority favor having labels with the following facts.
Consumers both want and need nutritional label facts. They want the calories, carbs, and fat in what they eat and drink.
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 dinner wine. In fact, standard drinks of beer, wine, and spirits (liquor) have the same amount of pure alcohol. It’s six-tenths of an ounce.
This is an important fact for consumers. Both for their health and their safety.
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… IN Bev J, 66(8), 4.
- Rose, D. Tories will label alcohol to encourage responsible drinking. The Times, Jan 14, 2020.