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A coalition of public interest groups last week pressed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to make the “meaningful change” to alcohol-labeling regulation that it originally petitioned the Treasury Department about six years ago. The coalition, which consists of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumers League, and Shape Up America!, noted that, despite three decades of governmental inaction, strong public support exists for a standardized “Alcohol Facts” panel on all beer, wine, and distilled spirits products.
Such a panel would list basic information, including serving size, calories per serving, alcohol content per serving, and the size of a “standard drink,” which the Dietary Guidelines define as as 12 fluid ounces of regular beer, 5 fluid ounces of wine and 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof (40 percent) distilled spirits.
“Today, alcoholic beverages are the only major category of consumable products not required to carry label information summarizing the basic characteristics of the product,” observed Chris Waldrop, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America. “It’s time the public has the same easily accessible labeling information that is now required for conventional foods, dietary supplements and nonprescription drugs.”
“Endless delay in issuing rules for transparency in alcohol-product labeling has kept consumers in the dark about alcohol and calorie content, and has stymied public health efforts to combat intoxication and weight gain,” added George Hacker, director of the Alcohol Policies Project at CSPI.
According to Dr. Barbara J. Moore, president and CEO of Shape Up America!, which was founded by former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop in 1994, “Today’s labeling requirements for alcoholic beverages are outdated, and they don’t demonstrate the national leadership that is critically needed to help consumers count their calories and help address the growing epidemic of obesity.”