Nutritional Information on Alcoholic Beverages in Doubt?

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"The current Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) petition drive shows a deep division between the wants of consumers and the economics of the drink industry," says the Low-Carb Bartender.

Bob Skilnik, author of The Low-Carb Bartender: Carb Counts for Beers, Wine, Mixed Drinks and More (ISBN:1-59337-253-1, Adams Media, $9.95), thinks consumers are in for a long wait before they can benefit from nutritional information labeling on alcoholic beverages. His drink reference book lists the carbohydrate counts of over 1,000 worldwide beers, 400 wines, and 200 low-carb mixed drinks.

"The smaller-sized beer and wine makers are especially fighting this rare opportunity to give consumers the same kind of information that they customarily find on packaged food labels," notes Skilnik. "They're arguing that any such regulation would be cost-prohibitive. But if the smallest food manufacturers can accept the costs of nutritional listings on their products, why not the drink industry? As a consumer, I'm much more concerned with nutritional information on my favorite beers and wines, than what kind of select hops were used in a brew or whether or not a vintage was aged for 6 months in French oak. The 9,600 comments that the TTB has received from consumers so far shows that this is something the public wants."

Although the interest in carb-counting diets has waned from its peak in 2004, recent estimates still place the amount of low-carb dieters at more than 2 million. Even more consumers admit that although not on a weight-reduction program, they still like to keep track of their carbohydrate intake as part of an active lifestyle. The more than 18 million Americans who suffer from diabetes could also benefit from the nutritional labeling of beers, wines, and spirited products. Currently, Skilnik's book is the only guide for those who would like to enjoy a drink or two but want to---or need to---keep track of the carbohydrate counts of these products.

Consumers have until September 26, 2005 to add their comments to the TTB's Notice No. 41, Labeling and Advertising of Wines, Distilled Spirits and Malt Beverages; Request for Public Comment by going to http://www.ttb.gov/alcohol/rules/response_noticeno41.htm

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Beth Gissinger