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DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms

Industry Circular

Number: 2002-2
Date: July 24, 2002

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PRE-COLA PRODUCT EVALUATION

Proprietors of Bonded Wineries, Bonded Wine Cellars, Taxpaid Wine Bottling Houses, Beverage Distilled Spirits Plants, Breweries, Importers and Others Concerned

PURPOSE

This circular provides current listings of alcohol beverages that specify whether or not a pre-COLA product evaluation is required. The current status of over 350 products or product categories is detailed in three (3) charts included in this circular. The charts are commodity based: one for wine, one for distilled spirits, one for malt beverages. Each chart is organized alphabetically by product name or type.

BACKGROUND

For numerous alcohol beverage products, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) can not issue a certificate of label approval (COLA), on ATF F 5100.31, Application For and Certification/Exemption of Label/Bottle Approval, without first performing a product evaluation. The Federal Alcohol Administration Act, 27 USC 205(e), authorizes ATF to issue regulations that: (1) ensure that consumers are provided with adequate information as to the identity and quality of every alcohol beverage, and (2) prevent consumer deception. Existing regulations and procedures require the submission of various forms of product evaluation in order for ATF to determine whether a proposed label identifies the product in an adequate and non-misleading way. Product evaluations entail chemical analysis of the product and/or review of the product ingredients and formulation. This product review is referred to as the pre-COLA product evaluation.

ATF requires a pre-COLA product evaluation in order to, among other things:

  • Ensure that no alcohol beverage contains a prohibited ingredient.

  • Ensure that limited ingredients are used within prescribed limitations or restrictions.

  • Ensure appropriate tax and product classifications.

  • Ensure that wine labeled without a sulfite declaration contains less than 10 parts per million (ppm) sulfur dioxide.

The type of pre-COLA product evaluation required is dictated by product origin and formulation. Formulas and statements of process are required by regulation for some domestically produced products, most commonly when flavoring or coloring materials are added. Field inspections can be used to verify the accuracy of these documents. Since ATF does not have access to foreign plants, some imported products are subject to either laboratory analysis or pre-import letter approval. Chemical analysis of a sample of the product is the feature that distinguishes laboratory analysis from pre-import letter approval. Chemical analysis is generally required when flavors or coloring material has been used in the product formulation and provides ATF with better assurance that the product is formulated in accordance with US laws and regulations regarding tax classification, standards of identity and product safety.

It is important to reiterate that the charts included in this circular reflect the CURRENT status of the listed products. It is also important to note that the status of a particular type of product may change. For example, ATF previously required laboratory analysis of imported Honey Wine. That status has changed; currently, only a pre-import letter is required for imported Honey Wine. As a further note, situations may dictate the need for pre-COLA product evaluation for a specific product even though no such requirement is reflected in the charts.

You must include a copy of the pre-COLA product evaluation with your COLA application for the alcohol beverage.

TYPES OF PRE-COLA PRODUCT EVALUATION

There are five (5) types of pre-COLA product evaluations:

1. LABORATORY ANALYSIS

  • This type of pre-COLA product evaluation requires submission of a 750 ml or equivalent volume product sample and a statement of production that includes:

    • A detailed and specific quantitative list of each and every ingredient in the product
      AND
    • A step-by-step description of the production process.

      NOTE: At a minimum, information on the source of alcohol for any distilled spirits used in the product, the alcohol percent by volume/proof at distillation of any distilled spirits used in the product, identification and source of any flavoring material used in the product, specific description of when flavoring material is added in the production of the product and the total volume and alcohol content of the finished product must be included in the statement of production.

  • The product sample must be identified, at a minimum, with: type of product (e.g., "Aperitif Wine," "Whisky," etc.); alcohol content; and name and address of the company to which results should be sent.
  • The statement of production must be on producer's letterhead. If not in English, an English translation of the statement of production must be provided.

  • Submit the product sample and statement of production along with a transmittal letter identifying the submitter and requesting pre-COLA product evaluation to:

    Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
    National Laboratory Center
    Beverage Alcohol Section
    1401 Research Boulevard
    Rockville, MD 20850

    The first time you submit a sample for laboratory analysis, you must also submit a copy of your importer's basic permit.

2. PRE-IMPORT LETTER

  • This type of pre-COLA product evaluation applies only to imported alcohol beverages.

  • This type of pre-COLA product evaluation requires submission of a statement of production that includes:

    • A detailed and specific quantitative list of each and every ingredient in the product
      AND
    • A step-by-step description of the production process.

      NOTE: At a minimum, information on the source of alcohol for any distilled spirits used in the product, the alcohol percent by volume/proof at distillation of any distilled spirits used in the product, identification and source of any flavoring material used in the product, specific description of when flavoring material is added in the production of the product and the total volume and alcohol content of the finished product must be included in the statement of production.

  • The statement of production must be on producer's letterhead. If not in English, an English translation of the statement of production must be provided.

  • Submit the statement of production along with a transmittal letter identifying the submitter and requesting pre-COLA product evaluation to:

    Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
    Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division
    650 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20226

3. FORMULA

  • This type of pre-COLA product evaluation applies only to domestically produced wines and distilled spirits.

  • Distilled Spirits formulas must be submitted on ATF Form 5110.38, Formula for Distilled Spirits Under Federal Alcohol Administration Act. The form includes specific instructions on how to fill it out.

  • Formulas must include a detailed and specific quantitative list of each and every ingredient in the product. Formulas for wine must also include a step-by-step description of the entire production process.

  • Submit formulas in triplicate (quadruplicate for products produced in Puerto Rico for shipment to the U.S.) to:

    Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
    Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division
    650 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20226

4. STATEMENT OF PROCESS

  • This type of pre-COLA product evaluation applies only to domestically produced malt beverages, rice wine and sake.

  • Statements of process are statements of production that include:

    • A detailed and specific quantitative list of each and every ingredient in the product
      AND
    • A step-by-step description of the production process.

      NOTE: At a minimum, information on the volume and alcohol content of the malt beverage base, identification and source of any flavoring material used in the product, the maximum volume and alcohol content of each flavoring material used in the product, the percentage of alcohol contributed by the flavor(s) to the finished product, specific description of when flavoring material is added in the production of the product and the total volume and alcohol content of the finished product must be included in the statement of process.

  • Statements of process must be on brewery letterhead.

  • Submit statements of process to:

    Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
    Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division
    650 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20226

5. SULFITE ANALYSIS

  • This type of pre-COLA product evaluation requires submission of a 750 ml or equivalent volume product sample.

  • The product sample must be identified with its vintage, batch or lot, class and/or type designation (e.g., cabernet sauvignon, white wine, etc.) and name and address of the company to which the results should be sent.

  • Submit the product sample along with a transmittal letter identifying the submitter and requesting sulfite analysis to:

    Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
    Alcohol and Tobacco Laboratory
    Alcohol Section
    355 North Wiget Lane
    Walnut Creek, CA 94598

  • ATF will also accept the results of sulfite analysis conducted by an ATF certified laboratory. For a listing of outside laboratories certified by ATF, contact:

    Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
    National Laboratory Center
    Beverage Alcohol Section
    1401 Research Boulevard
    Rockville, MD 20850

    (301) 762-9800


CONTACT INFORMATION

Direct questions on pre-COLA product evaluation to Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division Customer Service Team. The Customer Service Team can be reached by -

 

Mail:

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division
650 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20226

 

 

Phone:

(202) 927-8140 or
(866) 927-2533 (toll free number)

 

 

E-mail:

alfd@atfhq.atf.treas.gov


ATF Forms 5120.29 Formula and Process for Wine and 5110.38 Formula for Distilled Spirits Under Federal Alcohol Administration Act are available from ATF's Distribution Center or may be downloaded from the ATF website.

The ATF Distribution Center can be reached by -

Mail:

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
Distribution Center
Springfield, VA 22150-5190

 

 

Phone:

(703) 455-7801

 

 

Website:

www.atf.gov/forms/

 

Bradley A. Buckles,
signature

Director

       

Attachments:

Type of Pre-COLA Product Evaluation Required for Wine (98 KB)

Type of Pre-COLA Product Evaluation Required for Distilled Spirits (85 KB)

Type of Pre-COLA Product Evaluation Required for Malt Beverages (58 KB)

 
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