New Research Shows Public Wants Alcohol Content Listed On Labels for Beer, Wine and Distilled Spirits

Top Priority for Consumers Is Knowing Amount of Alcohol in Each Drink;

Data to Be Sent to Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)

Jan 22, 2008, 00:00 ET from Shape Up America!

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the Treasury
 Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) considers
 public comments on proposed rules to mandate standardized labeling
 information on beer, wine and distilled spirits, a new survey filed today
 as part of the public record underscores the importance of mandating
 detailed information about the alcohol content of these products --
 something TTB's current proposals do not require.
     Conducted for Shape Up America!, by Penn, Schoen and Berland's (PSB)
 Internet Surveys Group (ISG), the online survey of 503 adult Americans aged
 18 and over provides compelling evidence that consumers want complete
 labeling information on alcoholic beverages, 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. In fact, eight in ten of those polled (79 percent) agreed 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."
     "Today, even the most basic information about alcohol beverages is not
 required to be provided on the labels of most alcohol beverage products,"
 said Barbara J. Moore, Ph.D., president of Shape Up America!, "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. Anything
 less is hardly a victory for public health. "
     According to the new survey, consumers rank "the amount of alcohol in
 each drink" as the top priority (92 percent) for required information on an
 alcohol label followed by information about the calorie content (84
 percent). Considered less important on the label is the amount of
 carbohydrates (75 percent), fat (71 percent) and protein (66 percent),
 although consumers also value this information.
     At the same time, the survey documents widespread public support for
 using alcohol labels to educate consumers about following the Dietary
 Guidelines' advice on moderate drinking, which is defined as up to one
 drink per day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. Specifically,
 most Americans (79 percent) say they would support alcohol labeling that
 summarizes the Dietary Guidelines advice. Moreover, because the definition
 of a standard drink is not well known by the public, more than four in five
 surveyed (81 percent) say it would be helpful to know that government
 defines a standard drink as containing 0.6 fluid ounces of pure alcohol,
 which translates into 12 fluid ounces of regular beer, 5 fluid ounces of
 wine, or 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
     "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,"
 said Dr. Moore. "There is an immediate need for clear and complete
 information on alcohol labels and consumers should have access to it as
 soon as possible."
     The online survey also asked respondents to review three alternative
 labels that could be placed on alcohol beverage containers, giving TTB a
 better idea of what information consumers find most useful. When asked to
 compare the different options, the results were dramatic: the vast majority
 (76 percent) opted for a label that combines the information required under
 TTB's proposed rulemaking (the amount of calories, carbohydrates, fat and
 protein) with the amount of alcohol per serving and the statement "a
 standard drink contains 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol." In contrast, only 7
 percent chose the format proposed under TTB's rulemaking.
     In line with the public's thinking, a number of leading nutrition,
 public health and consumer organizations and academic institutions have
 submitted comments to TTB, all calling on the agency to combine information
 about calories, carbohydrates, fat and protein with the following
 meaningful information about the alcohol content of beer, wine and
 distilled spirits:
     -- The serving size, i.e., 12 fluid ounces (fl oz) for beer, 5 fl oz
 for wine, and 1.5 fl oz for distilled spirits;
     -- The amount of alcohol (expressed in fluid ounces or grams per
     -- The definition of a "standard drink;"
     -- The number of standard drinks per container; and
     -- A summary of the recommendation contained in The Dietary Guidelines
 for Americans 2005, which defines moderate drinking as no more than 2
 drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.
     TTB's proposed rulemaking comes at a time when half of adult Americans
 consume alcoholic beverages. According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for
 Americans, an estimated 55 percent of adults are drinkers and would benefit
 from easy access to standardized labeling information on beer, wine and
 distilled spirits products.
     In 2003, the National Consumers League joined with the Center for
 Science in the Public Interest and 75 other public health and consumer
 organizations in submitting a formal petition to TTB to require an "Alcohol
 Facts" panel on the labels of all alcohol beverage products. This resulted
 in TTB issuing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking in April 2005 and
 then in July 2007, publishing proposed rules to require a "Serving Facts"
 on the labels of beer, wine and distilled sprits. While the proposed rules
 would require manufacturers to list the amount of calories, carbohydrates,
 fat and protein in a standardized manner, TTB's proposal specifically
 leaves out any information about the alcohol content of these products.
     About Shape Up America!
     Shape Up America! was founded in 1994 by former U.S. Surgeon General C.
 Everett Koop to raise awareness of the health effects of obesity and to
 provide responsible information on weight management to the public and to
 health care professionals. The organization maintains an award winning
 website - - accessed by more than 100,000 visitors
 each month and an "opt-in" free e-newsletter with more than 20,000

SOURCE Shape Up America!