Public Wants Alcohol Content on Wine Labels

Survey shows consumers desire more detailed information

by Tina Caputo
Public Wants Alcohol Content on Wine Labels
Barbara Moore, president, Shape Up America!
Washington, D.C. -- A newly released survey indicates that American consumers support the inclusion of detailed alcohol content information on wine, beer and spirits labels. The survey was commissioned by Shape Up America!, an organization founded by former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop to raise awareness of the health effects of obesity. The survey results were submitted to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) on Jan. 22, just five days before the agency closed its public comment period on Notice No. 73, which proposes standardized labeling regulations for alcoholic beverages.

Conducted by Penn, Schoen and Berland's Internet Surveys Group, the online survey of 503 Americans aged 18 and over found that consumers want complete labeling information, including the percentage of alcohol by volume, the serving size, the amount of alcohol per serving, the definition of a "standard drink" and the number of standard drinks per container. Seventy-nine percent of survey participants said they agree with the statement: "There is no point in having labeling on the containers of alcohol beverages unless labels include all nutrition and ingredient information, including the amount of alcohol in each drink."

A strong majority (92%) of those surveyed ranked the amount of alcohol in each drink as the top priority for required labeling information, followed by the amount of calories (84%), carbohydrates (75%), fat (71%) and protein (66%).

Public Wants Alcohol Content on Wine Labels
Sample beer label
When asked to compare three different label options, 76% of survey participants opted for one that combines the information required under TTB's proposed rulemaking--the amount of calories, carbohydrates, fat and protein--with the alcohol content per serving and the statement, "A standard drink contains 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol." Only 7% chose the format proposed under TTB's rulemaking.

"It's time to give consumers complete and detailed information about the alcohol content and number of calories in all beverage alcohol products so they can make informed and responsible purchasing and consumption decisions," commented Barbara J. Moore, Ph.D., president of Shape Up America! "Although TTB believes this amount of information will confuse consumers, our survey clearly shows that when it comes to labeling information, consumers are savvy about using labels as information tools."

TTB spokesperson Art Resnick confirmed that the survey results have been submitted as a comment to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking entitled "Labeling and Advertising of Wines, Distilled Spirits, and Malt Beverages," but he declined to comment on its findings. "All the comments, including the survey, will be reviewed and taken into consideration as we move forward with rulemaking," he told Wines & Vines. The TTB plans to announce a decision on the "serving facts" proposal by the end of this year.

For more information about the survey, visit shapeup.org.
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