The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is issuing final guidance to help manufacturers in labeling bottled or otherwise packaged beers that are subject to FDA’s labeling laws and regulations. The final guidance, which was issued in draft form in August 2009, follows a 2008 ruling by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) clarifying that certain beers that do not meet the definition of “malt beverages” are not subject to the labeling provisions of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act. Specifically, this refers to beers that are not made from both malted barley and hops but are instead made from substitutes for malted barley (such as sorghum, rice or wheat) or are made without hops. These beers are subject to the food labeling provisions of FDA laws and regulations.
The guidance explains the requirements for such beers. As with other FDA regulated foods, mandatory information required on the labels of these non-malt beers include, among other things, a listing of ingredients in the product, a Nutrition Facts label and the name of the source of any major food allergen present in the product. The guidance also clarifies that other requirements, such as the Government Health Warning Statement under the Alcoholic Beverage Labeling Act, continue to apply to these products.
As described in the 2009 draft guidance, FDA recognized that manufacturers of the beers covered by the TTB Ruling may need time to change their labels to comply with FDA’s applicable laws and regulations. FDA exercised enforcement discretion and allowed manufacturers until January 1, 2012, to revise the labels on their non-malt beverage beers. FDA expects that all labels for these products now comply with all applicable laws and regulations.
Labels of bottled or otherwise packaged beers that are subject to FDA’s labeling requirements must have:
- A statement of identity such as “Beer made from sorghum” or “Sorghum Beer;”
- An accurate statement of the net quantity of contents in inch/pound units (e.g., 12 fl oz) that appears in the lower 30 percent of the principal display panel;
- Name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer or distributor;
- Statement of ingredients, in order of predominance of weight. The FDA says this includes any chemical preservatives present and a description of the function of the preservative, a declaration of any added coloring, a declaration of added flavor, such as any spices, natural flavors, or artificial flavors;
- Nutrition labeling unless exempt.
And there is more. If you or any of your beers fall under this definition, definitely check out the FDA final guidance.