LABEL STATEMENTS, ADVERTISING AND
ANALYTICAL TOLERANCES FOR MALT
Brewers, Importers, Wholesale Malt Liquor Dealers and Others Concerned:
Purpose. The purpose of this circular is to inform industry members
and others concerned that an ATF Ruling will be published in the
July-September quarterly issue of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
Bulletin. This ruling will supersede ATF Ruling 76-1, 1976 ATF
C.B. 82, and will read substantially as follows:
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has been asked to review
its present position regarding statements of caloric and carbohydrate
content in the labeling and advertising of malt beverages.
CALORIC and CARBOHYDRATE CONTENT
Sections 5(e) and 5(f) of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act,
implemented by regulations in 27 CFR, Part 7 for malt beverages,
relate to prohibited statements and practices in labeling or
advertising. In general, the FAA Act and implementing regulations
prohibit the use of certain statements on labels of malt beverages
introduced into interstate commerce, and the use of such statements
in advertisements in interstate commerce, or advertisements that are
calculated to induce sales in interstate commerce, if the laws of the
State into which the malt beverages are to be shipped impose similar
requirements. Prohibited statements include those that are untrue
in any particular; that, irrespective of falsity, tend to create a
misleading impression; that are disparaging of a competitor's product;
or that imply that the use of any malt beverage has curative or
The Bureau has held (ATF Ruling 76-1, ATF C.B. 82) that labels and
advertising for malt beverages could not state or imply the presence
of calories unless such reference was specified either as part of an
average analysis or in comparison with the brewer's regular product.
ATF Ruling 76-1 also held that any labeling or advertising refer-
ences relating to the carbohydrate content of these products could
only appear as a part of a statement of average analysis.
In reviewing its position, the Bureau has found that specifying the
caloric content of the product in comparison to the brewer's
regular product is no longer essential to give the consumer a point
of reference. Also, the Bureau has determined that carbohydrate
references should be handled in the same manner as caloric refer-
Held, caloric and carbohydrate representations made without qualifi-
cation in the labeling and advertising of malt beverages are con-
sidered to be misleading and contrary to the provisions of 27 CFR
7.29(e) and 7.54(e), since they create the impression that the
product has value as a dietary aid.
The Bureau will not sanction any caloric or carbohydrate references
on labels that do not contain a statement of average analysis. For
12 oz. size--average analysis
The average analysis statement will be optional in advertising for
In addition to the above, but not in lieu of the statement of aver-
age analysis on labels, the Bureau will permit statements of caloric
or carbohydrate content such as "contains 96 calories per 12 ozs."
or "contains 2.8 grams carbohydrates per 12 ozs." on any label and
in any advertising of malt beverage products. The serving size,
e.g., "per 12 oz.," must be specified in any advertising which
does not contain an average analysis statement but need not be
stated on labels since such information would be contained in the
required average analysis.
Held further, specific caloric and carbohydrate comparisons may be
made in advertising between a malt beverage labeled in accordance
with this ruling and an equal volume of a competitor's product
labeled in accordance with this ruling. The comparison may not be
either misleading or disparaging of a competitor's product.
Additionally, a brewer may compare, on labels and in advertising,
calories and carbohydrates of a malt beverage the brewer has produced
and labeled in accordance with this ruling and an equal volume of the
brewer's regular beer.
Examples of allowable comparisons are as follows: "96 calories per
12 ozs.--1/3 less than competitor's name Light Beer"; "2.8 grams
carbohydrates per 12 ozs.--1/3 less than competitor's name Light
Beer"; "Brand name contains 96 calories per 12 ozs. while
competitor's name Light Beer contains 106 calories per 12 ozs.";
"Brand name contains 2.6 grams carbohydrates per 12 ozs. while
competitor's name Light Beer contains 3.0 grams per 12 ozs."; "90
calories per 12 ozs.--1/2 the calories of our regular beer"; "2.6
grams carbohydrates per 12 ozs.--1/2 the carbohydrates of our
Held further, the word "light" (or "lite") may be used as part of
the brand or product name of a malt beverage labeled with a state-
ment of average analysis. It may not take the place of or be placed
so as to to be confused with the class and type designation required
by 27 CFR 7.24.
Previously approved certificates of label approval for malt bever-
ages which bear statements of caloric content comparison but not
statements of average analysis, and/or which use "light" (or "lite")
as part of the brand or product name but do not bear a statement of
average analysis, may be used until December 31, 1979. At that time
the certificates must be returned for cancellation. A reasonable
amount of time will be allowed for the preparation of substitute
advertising copy to conform with the requirements of this ruling.
However, the transition should be effected as expeditiously as
The Bureau has determined that tolerance ranges are required with
respect to labeled statements of caloric, carbohydrate, protein and
fat contents for malt beverages. The intent of these tolerances is
to provide for normal production and analytical variables while
continuing to ensure that the labeling is not misleading to the
Held, the statement of caloric content on labels for malt beverages
will be considered acceptable as long as the caloric content, as
determined by ATF analysis, is within the tolerance +5 and -10
calories of the labeled caloric content. For example, a label
showing 96 calories will be acceptable if ATF analysis of the
product shows a caloric content between 86 and 101 calories.
Held further, the statements of carbohydrate and fat contents on
labels for malt beverages will be considered acceptable as long as
the carbohydrate and fat contents as determined by ATF analysis, are
within a reasonable range below the labeled amount but, in no case,
are more than 20% above the labeled amount. For example, a label
showing 4.0 grams carbohydrates will be acceptable if ATF analysis
of the product shows a carbohydrate content which is under 4.0 grams
(within good manufacturing practice limitations) but not more than
Held further, the statement of protein content on labels for malt
beverages will be considered acceptable as long as the protein
content, as determined by ATF analysis, is within a reasonable range
above the labeled amount but, in no case, is less than 80% of the
labeled amount. For example, a label showing 1.0 gram protein will
be acceptable if ATF analysis of the product shows a protein content
which is more than 1.0 gram (within good manufacturing practice
limitations) but no less than 0.8 gram.
Certificates of label approval covering labels with statements of
caloric, carbohydrate, fat and protein content which are not in
compliance with the above analytical tolerances must be returned
for cancellation by December 31, 1979.
ATF Ruling 76-1, 1976 ATF C.B. 82, is superseded.
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 Penn-
sylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC. 20226.
GPO 860 541