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Use & Abuse
US Consumer Groups Press for Label Changes
Thursday, 13th October, 2005  - Richard Farmer

President of the National Consumer League, Linda Golodner

A major US consumer group wants alcohol labels changed to show a list of ingredients, the number of calories per serving, the serving size, servings per container, alcohol per serving, carbohydrates per serving, fat per serving, and protein per serving. President of the National Consumer League, Linda Golodner, wants the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to require the standardized "Alcohol Facts" panel on beer, wine and distilled spirits.

"Every consumer should have access to labeling so they can choose and use consumable products -- from foods, beverages, dietary supplements, and medicines" Ms Golodner said when releasing results of opinion polling supporting the chanbes. "The League was an advocate for a standardized 'Nutrition Facts' panel on foods and non-alcoholic beverages. We advocated for a similar 'Drug Facts' panels on over-the-counter drugs and we support a 'Rx Drug Facts' panel for prescription drugs. As a result, consumers now have access to labeling information about the ingredients and use of everything they eat, drink or swallow with one exception -- alcoholic beverages."

The NCL has called on the TTB to implement an interim policy now so that manufacturers of alcoholic beverages can provide labeling information on a voluntary basis. The Food and Drug Administration allowed voluntary nutrition labeling of foods before Congress mandated such labeling pursuant to the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act. Second, the NCL wants quick action to finalize and implement new rules that will lead to a standardized "Alcohol Facts" panel on all beverage alcohol labels. At a minimum, this new labeling will provide the following basic information:

* The Serving size;
* The Amount of alcohol per serving;
* The Number of calories per serving;
* The Percent alcohol by volume;
* The definition of a "standard drink";
* The number of standard drinks per container;
* The advice on alcohol consumption in the current edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans; and
* An ingredients declaration listing each ingredient by its common or usual name and identifying any major food allergens present in the product.

The TTB, largely as the result of pressure from consumer groups, is currently conducting a review of its alcohol labelling policies.

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