Posts Tagged ‘rejections’
Here we are, checking in a year later, after this post on GMO labeling. TTB still does not allow GMO labeling of the sort depicted above. This sort of labeling seems to be sweeping across the grocery store, but not in the alcohol beverage aisle. We have at least two bases for saying this. First of all, there is this recent Needs Correction (NC) notice. It says the GMO talk is misleading, therapeutic and not acceptable.
Second, we checked through LabelVision and see essentially no GMO-related labels. It is pretty amazing that few if any seem to have slipped through, even though this list tends to say quite a few alcohol beverage products meet the Non-GMO Profect standards.
This NC notice is good because it also happens to cover a few other issues. It reminds us that grape varietal terms should not be used on flavored wine products. It also reminds us that if you have something like a margarita-flavored wine product, it may be necessary to clearly mention that it’s a “wine cocktail.”
TTB announced a big policy change — about gluten free — just before the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
For many years before the announcement, plenty of companies have tried to make “gluten free” claims, but we still didn’t see any approved TTB labels referring to “gluten free.” A few weeks back, we thought we had one, when we heard a lot of buzz about Omission beer as above. But alas, even the Omission label has had a big omission when it comes to this particular claim.
All this is about to change in a big way, as result of this TTB Ruling, released late last week. As a result, we may begin to see various gluten free claims on TTB labels in the very near future.
To show the earlier TTB policy, a fairly recent TTB rejection is here, and it may help explain why Widmer did not come out and say it louder or earlier. TTB’s caution may well have been justified; Brewbound has explained: “The release of Omission Beer comes just a few months after a study published in the Journal of Proteome Research found that eight commercial beers currently labeled as ‘gluten-free’ contained as much gluten as regular beer.”
Brewbound further explained that there are plenty of other beers that seek to minimize or eliminate gluten, but most of the others (such as this Bard’s Tale) are made with sorghum as a substitute for malted barley:
Ordinarily a new product release wouldn’t be so newsworthy but the launch of Omission marks the first time a U.S. craft brewer has been able to produce a gluten-free beer while still using malted barley in the brew process.
In the same article, the beer company’s CEO explains:
Omission beer is brewed with malted barley, but we’ve developed a proprietary process to reduce the gluten levels to well below the internationally accepted gluten-free standard of 20 parts per million of gluten. We are currently working with the TTB and the FDA to update the definition of the term ‘gluten-free.’… The inspiration behind Omission beers was personal. I am a 12-year celiac, our brewmaster’s wife is a celiac, as are several other members of our team. … We’re also going to talk about the extensive testing that Omission beers go through to ensure that every batch of Omission beer is well below the international gluten-free standard of 20 ppm. In fact, each bottle of Omission Beer caries a date stamp connecting the brew to its specific batch. Consumers can visit www.OmissionTests.com, type in the date code stamped on their bottle, and see that beers’ test results. … An estimated three million Americans have celiac disease.
Even though there is little to no gluten talk on Omission’s approved label (so far), there is plenty of gluten talk on the brand’s website. For example, the FAQ says “Is Omission beer gluten free? According to federal guidelines, we aren’t legally allowed to claim that Omission beer is gluten-free outside of Oregon … . While the FDA proposed to define the term ‘gluten free,'” that definition has not been formally adopted … .”
As a result of TTB Ruling 2012-2, look for Widmer and many others to push much further toward gluten free claims in the near future.
The highly secretive and powerful Triple Sec lobby has struck again — this time to require at least one drop of triple sec in certain alcohol beverages. Google it as much as you wish, and you will find little about this uber-secret institution, rumored to have strong ties leading all the way back to France. That’s because it’s secret. Some even say that Sen. John Kerry, with his thinly disguised sympathies for many things French, is Triple Sec’s man in Washington.
On a more serious note, for many years, TTB has required at least some triple sec in products that purport to be margaritas. The policy is here, at page 13 (scroll down to Margarita). The policy is in TTB’s “Beverage Alcohol Manual” for spirits. The BAM can be a handy resource to explain and supplement the regulations. Sometimes, as here, it goes considerably beyond what the law or regulations say. In this particular case, it seeks to mandate that every margarita must have: “Tequila, triple sec and lime or lemon juice or oil or natural lime or lemon flavor.” Here is a recent example of TTB seeking to enforce the rule.
Does such a rule make any sense in this day and age of scarce resources? What is the worst that would happen if such a rule went away? Some may say the rule does not go far enough — and should similarly apply to malt beverages, wines, cocktails prepared at retail premises and even homes. If you have any doubt about the hushed-up threat presented by this rule (explaining how to make various cocktails), do not forget that the same rule also requires just a little bit of cream — or crème as some call it — in a Grasshopper or Pink Squirrel.
In the above example, it is not sufficient to have VODKA on the front label. Or, the right size. In addition, it needs to be “separate and apart” from other matter. TTB has gotten more strict about this over the years. The above rejection is from a few days ago. The vodka label is from many years ago, to show the movement in the policy, or the enforcement of the policy.
TTB is quite concerned about word placement and proximity. For example, “absinthe” must appear next to other words, as here. Vodka may not, as above. It is important to understand the various proximity rules, because they can lead to unpleasant surprises, and because they extend from spirits to beer and wine. It is probably not okay to bury the word “chardonnay” amidst a sentence singing its praises. It is probably not okay, in most instances, to affix several words before and after BEER.
The rule can be difficult because it’s not always clear how much separation is required (A few spaces? A few line breaks?). It’s not always clear why some terms get treated differently (such as “Silver Rum” or “Cream Liqueur”). It is easy enough to add an extra class/type statement to the front label, to avoid any difficulties (such as adding VODKA to the above label, on its own line) — but only if you know the rule early enough.
This Malvira red wine happens to mention that the Barbera d’Alba blend is “aged in French Oak barriques … for 18-24 months.” Is there anything so troublesome about that? Maybe so. On a similar label (with a different age range), the above rejection shows that TTB would prefer that wine labels show the actual amount of age, rather than a range or guesstimate.
TTB did not cite any specific authority in the rejection above, but 27 CFR 4.38(f) would make it hard for the importer to win this argument. It says:
(f) Additional information on labels. Labels may contain information other than the mandatory label information … if such information complies with the requirements … and does not conflict with, nor in any manner qualify statements required by this part. In addition, information which is truthful, accurate, and specific, and which is neither disparaging nor misleading may appear on wine labels.
The stated range (six months on one and two months on the other) may be accurate and non-disparaging, but it’s not especially specific.