Is Ignorance Bliss? Advocates urge Nutritional Labeling on Beer, Wine and Spirits

April 27, 2009 at 8:53 pm Leave a comment

The diet conscious among us might soon have better information regarding nutritional information of our favorite alcoholic beverages if a cadre of public interest groups is successful.  Inspect the label on a bottle of beer, wine or liquor and notice that, besides the Surgeon General’s Warning about the possible dire consequences of drinking, generally no nutritional value is provided.  While some of us may experience sticker shock upon seeing the caloric or carb content before we imbibe, advocacy groups argue that not disclosing the nutritional content of alcoholic beverages poses a public health concern.


A coalition of public interest groups is trying to change that, and recently called on Congress and the Obama Administration to issue a regulation requiring standardized labeling information on beer, wine and distilled spirits products.

In order to provide information needed for consumers to make informed purchasing and consumption decisions, advocates continue to press for a standardized “Alcohol Facts” panel listing the alcohol content, of alcohol per serving, definition of a standard drink, number of calories and facts about other ingredients.  The step would end the stalemate in modernizing beverage alcohol labels that traces back to 1972, when consumer organizations first asked the federal government to require meaningful alcohol labeling.


According to advocates, insufficient information exists within the marketplace for consumers to know what constitutes a “standard drink” — 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof (40%) distilled spirits — and to understand that standard serving sizes of beer, wine and spirits are equal in alcohol strength and their effect on the body. As a result, research finds nearly 20 percent of current drinkers regularly consume more than the up to two standard drinks a day for men and one drink for women.


To view a copy of the alcohol policy platform, go to


About the Center for Science in the Public Interest

Since 1971, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has been a strong advocate for nutrition and health, food safety, alcohol policy, and sound science. Founded by executive director Michael Jacobson, Ph.D. and two other scientists, CSPI has long sought to educate the public, advocate government policies that are consistent with scientific evidence on health and environmental issues, and counter industry’s powerful influence on public opinion and public policies.


About the Consumer Federation of America

Consumer Federation of America is a non-profit association of some 300 organizations, with a combined membership of over 50 million Americans. Since its founding in 1968, CFA has worked to advance the interest of American consumers through research, education and advocacy. CFA’s Food Policy Institute was created in 1999 and engages in research, education and advocacy on food and agricultural policy, agricultural biotechnology, food safety and nutrition.


About the National Consumers League

Founded in 1899, the National Consumers League is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Its mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. NCL is a private, nonprofit membership organization. For more information, visit


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” e-newsletter with more than 24,000 subscribers.




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