Consumer Corner

Alcohol Beverage Labeling and Advertising

The Federal Alcohol Administration (FAA) Act sets forth standards for regulating the labeling and advertising of wine (containing at least 7 percent alcohol by volume), distilled spirits, and malt beverages. TTB’s regulations are written to prevent the deception of the consumer and provide them with "adequate information" as to the identity and quality of the product, to prohibit false or misleading statements, and to provide information as to the alcohol content of the product.

Labeling

What to Expect from an Alcohol Beverage Label

For more details on what information is required on labels, please refer to the Beverage Alcohol Manuals specifically for:

Reading a Label

The information below describes the contents of an alcohol beverage label and what it means to you as a consumer.

Organic Labels

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides standards for the production, handling, processing, labeling, and marketing of products labeled with organic claims. While these rules were not written or implemented by TTB, they do apply to alcohol beverages. For this reason, TTB has worked closely with USDA to ensure that the alcohol beverage industry has been provided with current and accurate information regarding organic claims on labels. Learn more about the National Organic Program.

Major Food Allergens Labeling

Current regulations under the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act) do not require the disclosure of major food allergens on alcohol beverage labels. However, TTB has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking, Notice No. 62, 71 FR 42329, which proposes to make the labeling of major food allergens mandatory. In addition, we have published an interim rule, T.D. TTB-53, 71 FR 42260, which sets forth standards for optional allergen labeling statements. The interim rule went into effect on July 26, 2006.

Consistent with the provisions of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004, FALCPA, the interim rule defines a "major food allergen" to mean any of the following: milk, egg, fish (e.g., bass, flounder, or cod), Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, or shrimp), tree nuts (e.g., almonds, pecans, or walnuts), wheat, peanuts and soybeans, as well as any food ingredient that contains protein derived from one of these food sources.

Labeling Approval

TTB implements and enforces a broad range of statutory and compliance provisions to ensure that alcohol products are created, labeled, and marketed in accordance with Federal laws and regulations.

Alcohol producers must apply for a Certification/Exemption of Label/Bottle Approval (COLA) and follow the labeling and advertising regulations. Read more.

Labeling Claims

TTB uses the Association of Analytical Communities (AOAC) and TTB methods when reviewing labeling and advertising claims by taking samples of alcohol beverage products to validate calorie, fat, carbohydrate, and protein statements. These methods of analysis meet the definitions referenced in Section III of TTB Procedure 2004-1. We consider an advertising or labeling claim acceptable if, when we evaluate the product using these methods, we find that it falls within the tolerance levels specified in Section V of that procedure.

Alcohol Beverage Advertising

TTB's Alcohol Beverage Advertising Program monitors the market place to ensure compliance with the alcohol beverage advertising regulations.

TTB's Alcohol Beverage Advertising Program

TTB monitors the advertising of alcohol beverages through a combination of:

  • Preclearance of advertising material - At the industry member's request, we review the member's advertisement for compliance with the appropriate advertising regulations. This service is offered at no charge.
  • Referrals and/or complaints - Review of advertisements for compliance when the general public, other government agencies, an employee within TTB, or another industry member refers to us an advertisement that they believe is in violation of our laws and regulations.
  • Internal Selections for Review - TTB market compliance specialists independently select advertisements from a variety of media and review those advertisements for compliance with the advertising regulations.

Advertising Reviews

Examples of advertising areas that TTB will review include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The presence of mandatory information, such as the name and address of the responsible advertiser and product class/type information;
  • Statements or depictions that are inconsistent with approved product labels;
  • Statements that are false, misleading, or deceptive;
  • Statements, designs, or the use of subliminal representations that are obscene or indecent;
  • False or misleading statements that are disparaging of a competitor’s product;
  • Prohibited uses of the word "pure" for distilled spirits products;
  • Misleading or false curative or therapeutic claims;
  • The form and use of mandated and optional alcohol content statements;
  • Misleading references to carbohydrates, calories, fat, protein, and other macronutrients or "components;" and
  • Specific health claims and health related statements.

TTB will select industry members for advertising examination based on various indicators such as prior compliance history, advertising methods, and market impact, as well as random sampling factors. We will also continue to respond to specific complaints and referrals. TTB specialists will work individually with industry members to answer questions and to ensure the correction and/or removal of any improper advertising currently in use.

Page last reviewed/updated: 03/15/2017

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