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The Federal Trade Commission has submitted a staff comment to the Department of the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (“TTB”) concerning a proposed rulemaking on alcohol labeling.

TTB proposed to adopt a mandatory Serving Facts panel, to include the serving size, number of servings per container, and for each serving, the number of calories, and the quantity in grams of carbohydrates, fat, and protein. It also proposed to require that labels contain a disclosure of alcohol content by volume (“ABV”) somewhere on the label and to permit, but not require, disclosure of pure alcohol content in fluid ounces per serving. The FTC staff supports TTB’s proposal to increase substantially the amount of information contained on alcohol labels, but recommends that TTB require labels to disclose pure alcohol content in fluid ounces per serving (rather than in the form of ABV) and specify that this disclosure should appear within the Serving Facts panel.

As proposed by the FTC staff, the labels would give consumers the standard serving size (to be defined in the new rules) as well as the amount of pure alcohol per serving, thus permitting consumers to compare different beverages. Because labeling can be an important vehicle for communicating government recommendations, the comment urges TTB to consider permitting labels to carry information about public health recommendations to limit alcohol consumption. The staff recommends that TTB conduct consumer research on the new labels before finalizing the rulemaking. Finally, regardless of the form in which the disclosures are made, consumers will need help learning how to interpret the disclosures and how to compare the alcohol content of different beverages. Accordingly, the comment recommends that TTB engage in consumer education about the new labels, in connection with their introduction into the marketplace.

The Commission vote approving issuance of the report was 5-0. (FTC File No. P084504; the staff contact is Janet M. Evans, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2125.)

Copies of the document mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s Web site at and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.

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