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The History of Alcohol's Nutritional Labels

January 14, 2015 2 min read

Or lack there-of, to be more precise. Especially with the holiday season, drinking and making merry, I’ve noticed a bizarre lack of nutritional information on alcohol labels. Most people realize that alcohol isn’t healthy for you, but a lot of people don’t realize just how many calories you can rack up by drinking. So, what gives? Why is alcohol the only ingestible product without proper nutritional labeling? The answer starts back in 1935, right after the end of prohibition, when the Alcohol Administration Act was created, later becoming the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or the TTB. Since alcohol, and its labeling, is governed by the TTB, the rules that apply to the FDA, as in the requirement to put nutritional information on all packaged food, do not extend to alcohol. alcohollabels Instead, there’s a bevy of bizarre rules and convoluted-ness when it comes to alcohol labeling. For example, wines over 14% must label the alcohol percentage, while wines and beer under 7% need to list nutritional info, but alcohol content is optional. And I’m certainly not a visionary suddenly unearthing the need for proper alcohol labeling; there have been many attempts to put nutrition labels on alcohol throughout the years. Several consumer advocate groups have lobbied for more comprehensive nutrition labels on alcohol, and have met with resistance every time. [caption id="attachment_62269" align="alignnone" width="757"]A proposed example of nutrition labelling for alcohol A proposed example of nutrition labelling for alcohol[/caption] Nutritional labeling has had a dramatic effect on people’s consumption of sugary drinks such as pop, so it stands to reason that the same effect would happen if nutrition labels were mandated on alcoholic beverages. People just don’t realize how many calories can be consumed in a drink. It doesn’t look like there will be any big changes in nutritional labeling for alcohol anytime soon, so in the meantime, you can look up alcohol’s nutritional information online, and try to drink smart.  

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