FDA and Brewers Association Agree to Menu Labeling Details

Hi all. Some good news for the holidays…Brewers Association Technical Brewing Projects Manager Chuck Skypeck and I conducted our latest conference call with staff at the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Office of Nutrition and Labeling on December 13, 2016. The results of the call were an encouraging follow-up to FDA’s review of Brewers Association data for sample sets three beer styles and provided suggestions for how small brewery members can help restaurant chains of 20 or more units operating under the same name comply with menu labeling requirements.

Among the reasonable bases that data can be sourced from by restaurant chains are calculation of the 11 required nutrients (calories for menus and menu boards and 10 others available upon request) via recipe, via an accurate database, or via analytical testing. FDA suggested an approach for the Brewers Association would be more robust analytical testing of beers by style that we have already done–more styles and more samples. The Brewers Association can build a database for the nutrients other than calories and carbohydrates based on average analysis, which for most nutrients can be listed under the insignificant amount data point for each nutrient. Brewers would need to provide their own data points for calories and carbohydrates, and the Brewers Association will be looking at some of the online calculators in the coming days. Chuck is working developing the robust lab sampling plan to develop the average analyses foundation. The next step would be creation of the online resource in the members only area of BrewersAssociation.org.

My assumption is that this system should be workable for beers without post-fermentation additives.

A second idea from FDA is for the Brewers Association to develop an analysis program for each constituent ingredient in beer and develop the nutrient levels for different malted and unmalted grains and hops and other common ingredients to create a recipe calculator. This idea could be a longer range project for down the road, as the urgency is aimed at getting the simpler solution operational first.

I credit FDA’s collaborative approach with stakeholders to work together toward a solution that shouldn’t require each brewer to send their beers in for complex and expensive lab testing for little public benefit. My thanks go out to FDA’s Doug Valentin and his team and Kari Barrett for their engagement on this matter. They understand the financial hardship or loss of market access that brewers would have to see if each beer sold in chains needed testing.

Cheers,

Paul Gatza

Director

Brewers Association

 

Paul Gatza is the director of the Brewers Association (BA), a not-for-profit trade association whose purpose is to promote and protect American craft brewers and American craft beer and the community of brewing enthusiasts. Paul is a member of the association’s Brewpubs, Technical, Communications, Market Development, PR & Marketing and Government Affairs Committees. Paul’s origin in the beer community started when he took up homebrewing in 1990. He worked on the bottling line at Boulder Beer and would sneak over to the brewhouse when opportunity allowed. He owned a pair of homebrew supply shops in Boulder and Longmont, Colorado from 1994 to 1998. He served as director of the American Homebrewers Association for 7 years and is in his 17th year as Brewers Association director. Paul is ranked as a National Beer Judge by the Beer Judge Certification Program. Paul is also a former judge director of both the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup, before moving to the judge panels for these elite competitions.

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