On January 25, 2008, the Brewers Association (BA) submitted comments on Notice 73 – Labeling and Advertising of Wines, Distilled Spirits and Malt Beverages (Serving Facts Labeling) to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). The proposed rule contains the following provisions:
- Alcohol content expressed in ABV as a mandatory requirement
- New reference serving sizes for beer:
- **Beer < 10% ABV has a 12-oz serving size.
- **Beer > 10% ABV has a 5-oz serving size.
- A mandatory serving facts panel to include serving size, servings per container, alcohol percent by volume, calories and grams of fat, carbohydrates, and protein
- An optional disclosure of fluid ounces of pure alcohol (ethyl alcohol) as part of the serving facts panel
- An alternative of a linear serving facts display for bottles of 50 ml or less
- An effective date of three years from the publication of a final rule, although labels may be brought into compliance ahead of that date
In developing comments, BA staff relied on member responses to a survey focusing on potential impacts to small businesses. In brief, that survey found that certain provisions contained in Notice 73 had the potential to negatively affect the majority of small breweries. The requirement to portray the serving and nutritional information in a panel format was particularly onerous in that many small brewers would forced to either significantly upgrade or buy new labeling equipment.
The survey also revealed that the use of an optional linear display of serving facts information would allow small brewers to save over $15 million compared to the panel format by reducing or eliminating the necessity of buying new equipment and the need for label redesign. Additional points made in the comment letter included support for including a statement of alcohol by volume, opposition to an optional statement of grams of pure alcohol, and a clarification of appropriate serving sizes for beers of varying ABV.
View the complete comment submission: Brewers Association Comments on Notice 73 (PDF file).
January, 2009 Status Update: TTB expects to issue a final rule in the next 12 months.