November 11, 2014

Should Alcoholic Beverages have Calorie Labels?

According to an MSN health & fitness article, neither the United States nor the European Union (EU) requires alcoholic beverage labels to contain nutritional facts (including calories), a finding that led the Royal Society for Public Health, a British nonprofit organization, to release a report calling for alcohol products in the EU to be labeled with calorie information.

Such labels, the Society argued, could help fight obesity, which affects about 25% of adults in England and 34.9% of adults in the U.S.   A survey of adults in the U.K. found that 60% to 80% did not know or underestimated the amount of calories in alcohol.

Labels seem to make sense, so why aren’t they required? The article cited several reasons, including the cost to the industry of analyzing alcoholic products for nutritional content and, in the U.S., the division of regulatory duties among different agencies. The Food and Drug Administration generally regulates nutritional food labels, but the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau regulates alcohol labels. According to one food and beverage lawyer, the bureau does not have the resources to review nutritional facts panels.