Posts Tagged ‘serving facts/allergens’
TTB had a fascinating tidbit in the September 3, 2010 TTB Newsletter. It tends to say that nutrition information will be attaching to beer, wine and spirits a lot sooner than most people expected. Not so much on labels (yet), but on menus, wine lists and similar postings at on-premise retailers. This seems like a huge and important development, courtesy of President Obama, Congress and FDA (rather than TTB). It therefore seems odd that there is not much outcry; the submitted comments do not show much awareness from the alcohol beverage industry. The Washington Post suggests that the connection among the health care legislation, menu labeling and alcohol beverages caught most people by surprise.
TTB summarized the initiative succinctly:
On March 23, 2010, the President signed the health care reform legislation into law. Section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 requires restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations to list calorie content information for standard menu items on restaurant menus and menu boards, including drive-through menu boards. Other nutrient information – total calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars, fiber and total protein – would have to be made available in writing upon request.
The FDA Questions and Answers in B, Covered Food, Question 2, provides: “Are meat and poultry dishes and alcoholic beverages that are served in a covered restaurant or SRFE subject to the requirements in section 4205? Yes. Meat and poultry dishes and alcoholic beverages are considered food as defined in the FFDCA (see Question B.1). Therefore, the nutrition disclosure requirements in section 4205 apply in cases where these foods are listed on a menu or menu board or are otherwise covered under section 4205, even though they may be regulated by other agencies in other circumstances.”
The FDA is required by law to issue proposed regulations to carry out these provisions by March 23, 2011.
The FDA notice is here. FDA’s Guidance explains that alcohol beverages are covered every bit as much as a McMuffin. The Womble Carlyle law firm explains that this initiative is on a very fast track, with some elements (such as calorie disclosure) already binding as of enactment of the law six months ago, well before the regulations get written or finalized. It’s a good time to be in the calorie measurement business.
This fine product has eggs on the label, and in the bottle, so it comes equipped with an allergen qualification, on the approval. The above qualification says:
The disclosure of allergens used in this product is voluntary, pending final rulemaking (See Notice No. 62, 71 FR 42329). However; any reference made to allergens must declare all allergens used in the production of this product, including fining or processing agents.
And it is a harbinger of the allergen fun that is soon to commence. Soon, allergen disclosures will be mandatory on beer, wine and spirits. There is not much on the web or in the rules to explain how Advocaat should be made and where the name comes from, but the Bak’s label does a pretty good job. It explains that Bak’s Advocaat is made with potato spirits, egg yolk, sugar, vanilla and a bit of brandy.
It is likely that all beer, wine and spirits labels will change dramatically in the near future. TTB Administrator John Manfreda confirmed this in a recent speech. TTB has been working on new rules since CSPI and other groups submitted a petition in 2003. The new rules would require a “Serving Facts” panel on every container. This panel would include a lot more information, such as the typical serving size, number of servings per container, calories, carbohydrates, protein and fat. Because this is a big, controversial change, TTB has received more than 18,000 public comments during the past few years. There are far too many comments for most people to review, and so we will highlight and summarize the most noteworthy comments here. The most recent proposal and comments are here. This is comment 22 in a series; to see others, click on the “serving facts” tag below.
13 Senators submitted a 2 page comment back in January of 2008. It said:
- The proposed rule looks “methodical and careful,” for the most part.
- It is time for TTB to require an alcohol content statement on beer, to be consistent with wine and spirits.
- It is improper to show standard drinks by ounces or graphical depictions, whether optional or mandatory. They are complex and misleading.
Senator Dodd wrote separately, to say:
- “I agree strongly with your proposal to require the listing of nutritional information on alcoholic beverages.”
- Alcoholic beverages are the only food or beverage item for which standardized information is not readily available.
- Standardized nutrition information, on labels, is “critically important.”
- The rule should require labels to show the amount of alcohol per serving, in fluid ounces.
- Labels should define “moderate drinking” and explain that a standard drink contains 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol.
- A standard drink would be 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces of spirits.
First there was Miller Lite, at about 96 calories per 12 ounces (back around 1975).
In later years the non-alcoholic malt beverages (or “near beers”) became more common, with leading brands such as Clausthaler and Kaliber at about 80 calories (as per Skilnik).
Now, in the past year, it appears we have a race to the bottom. That is, Miller Genuine Draft 64 came out about a year ago. It is, not surprisingly, 64 calories per 12 ounces (and 2.8% alc./vol.).
Lower and more recent still is Bud Select 55. It is only 55 calories and 2.4% alc./vol.
This is one important trend over the past 34 years. In a future post we will look at a countervailing trend toward very high calorie/alcohol malt beverages.
All of this leads us to wonder, where will this go in the next 34 years? When the Jonas Brothers hit middle age, will they be drinking Bud Exträ Epic Mega Select 11 (down near the lower limits for the legal definition of beer)? Hops flavored Perrier?
It is likely that all beer, wine and spirits labels will change dramatically in the near future. TTB Administrator John Manfreda confirmed this in a recent speech. TTB has been working on new rules since CSPI and other groups submitted a petition in 2003. The new rules would require a “Serving Facts” panel on every container. This panel would include a lot more information, such as the typical serving size, number of servings per container, calories, carbohydrates, protein and fat. Because this is a big, controversial change, TTB has received more than 18,000 public comments during the past few years. There are far too many comments for most people to review, and so we will highlight and summarize the most noteworthy comments here. The most recent proposal and comments are here. This is comment 21 in a series; to see others, click on the “serving facts” tag below.
Michael Taylor (on behalf of Diageo) submitted a 4 page comment. It said:
- Diageo hired Mr. Taylor in 2005 and he’s currently a research professor at George Washington University. From 1991-1994 he was FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Policy and was actively involved in setting the comparable rules for foods more generally.
- I am disappointed that TTB will not require reference to a “standard drink.”
- The Dietary Guidelines are an important tool and among other things they point out that moderate consumption of alcohol may convey health benefits.
- It is wrong to argue that there is no “standard drink.” The concept can and should be used to avoid the need for consumers to make complex calculations at the point of purchase. It is similar to the % daily value concept successfully deployed by FDA.
- “Any new alcohol label will have to be explained to consumers, and TTB should recognize that no new information tool on a consumer label achieves its full utility overnight or automatically.” TTB must preserve the “serving facts” concept and make it workable.