LABELING REQUIREMENTS FOR METRIC
STANDARDS OF FILL
Proprietors of Bonded Wine Cellars, Tax Paid
Wine Bottling Houses, Distilled Spirits Plants,
Importers, and Others Concerned:
Purpose. This circular is to inform industry members that ATF
Ruling 77-21 dealing with the labeling of products bottled in
metric standards of fill will be published in the ATF Bulletin.
The Ruling will read substantially as follows:
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has been
asked to clarify the labeling requirements regarding statements
of net contents for wine and distilled spirits bottles conforming
with the metric standards of fill.
With regard to wine, a statement of net contents must
appear on a brand label or a separate label affixed in immediate
proximity thereto on the same side of the container in com-
pliance with 27 CFR 4.32(b). 27 CFR 4.37(b) requires the
equivalent volume in United States measure to be shown on all
wine bottled in metric standards of fill prior to January 1, 1979,
as follows: 3 liters (101 fl. oz.), 1.5 liters (50.7 fl. oz.), 1 liter
(33.8 fl. oz.), 750 milliliters (25.4 fl. oz.), 375 milliliters
(12.7 fl. oz.), 187 milliliters (6.3 fl. oz.) and 100 milliliters
(3.4 fl. oz.).
With regard to distilled spirits bottled in containers con-
forming to the standards of fill, a statement of net contents
must appear on a brand or back label in compliance with 27
CFR 5.32(b). 27 CFR 5.38a(b) requires the equivalent volume
in the United States measure to be shown on all distilled spirits
bottled in metric standards of fill prior to January 1, 1980, as
follows: 1.75 liters (59.2 fl. oz.), 1.00 liter (33.8 fl. oz),
750 milliliters (25.4 fl. oz.), 500 milliliters (16.9 fl. oz.),
200 milliliters (6.8 fl. oz.), 50 milliliters (1.7 fl. oz.).
For both wine and distilled spirits, the statement of net
contents need not appear on labels if it is legibly blown, etched,
sandblasted, marked by underglaze coloring, or otherwise
permanently marked by any method approved by the Director
on the side, front, or back of the container in an unobscured
location, under 27 CFR 4.37(d) and 27 CFR 5.38a, respectively.
27 CFR 4.38(f) and 5.33(f) permit the appearance on labels
of information other than mandatory information provided it
does not conflict with or qualify in any manner statements
required under the regulations. 27 CFR 4.38a(c) and 5.41(c)
allow on individual coverings, cartons or other containers of
readily removable bottles used for sale at retail (other than a
shipping container) the display of any information which is not
in conflict with the label on the bottle contained within.
27 CFR 4.39(a)(1) and 5.42(a)(1) prohibit the appearance on
containers of wine and distilled spirits, or any label on such
containers, or any individual covering, carton, or other wrapper
of such containers, or any written, printed graphic, or other
matter accompanying such containers, of any statement which
is likely to mislead or deceive the consumer.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms wishes to
inform all concerned of statements consistent with the regu-
lations and additional information permissible relative to the
metric standards of fill.
Held, the statement of net contents for the metric standards
of fill must be stated exactly as specified in 27 CFR 4.37(b)
and 5.38a(b) with the United States measure equivalent appearing
in parentheses in direct conjunction with the metric statement.
Since the regulations show "ml" as an abbreviation for milliliter,
that abbreviation may be used in lieu of milliliter, where re-
quired. The abbreviation of the word "liter" and the variations
"Half Liter," "3/4 Liter," et al., are not permitted since such
representations could cause consumer confusion and create a
misleading impression as prohibited under 27 CFR 4.39(a)(1)
The following statements are permissible as additional
information under 27 CFR 4.38(f) and 5.33(f):
1. If the labels or bottles bear the full net content statement
in both the metric and United states measures, the metric
measure may also be stated alone on any label affixed to
2. If the labels bear the metric and United States measures
as required, the metric measure alone or the metric and
the United States measures may be blown, etched, sand-
blasted, marked by any method approved by the Director
on the side, front or back of the container.
3. Informative statements comparing a metric size to the
former standard of fill size which will be replaced by it
are permissible. (Examples of permissible statements
would include: "This one liter bottle contains 1.8 fl. oz.
more than a quart," and "This 3 liter bottle contains 57.8%
more than 1/2 gallon").
4. The terms "Magnum" or "Metric Magnum" may be used
in reference to wine when the statement of net contents
"1.5 liters (50.7 fl. oz.)" appears on the labels or in the
5. Individual coverings, cartons or other containers of readily
removable bottles used for sale at retail (other than shipping
container) may display a statement of metric measure with-
out the United States measure.
Inquiries. Inquiries concerning this circular should refer to its
number and be addressed to the Assistant Director (Regulatory
Enforcement), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 1200
Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20226.
Rex D. Davis