The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has extended the deadline for public comment on the proposed beer and wine labeling rules. The new deadline is June 26, 2019; the original date had been March 26.
According to the Brewers Association, the TTB rulemaking would "update, simplify, and clarify the labeling and advertising regulations for wine, distilled spirits and malt beverages."
Two Areas of Focus
Brewer Magazine suggested that craft brewers focus on two particular areas of concern: Part 7, Labeling of Malt Beverages, and Part 14, Advertising of Wine, Distilled Spirits and Malt Beverages. The magazine said the Brewers Association sent an email to brewers containing a PDF with both the 132-page notice from the TTB and a condensed notes version, highlighting the key portions that brewery owners could have a say on.
According to the email, "The Brewers Association cannot effectively track or predict the wide-ranging effects the TTB proposal may have on individual breweries/companies. We strongly encourage members to review the proposed changes and participate in the rulemaking process. While you are free to comment on any section, we hope this resource will be helpful in focusing your comment submissions."
Although the intent of the regulatory action is to "simplify" the rules, a cursory examination of the 132-page document reveals an extremely detailed, comprehensive proposal that touches on a large number of issues affecting both the wine and beer industries. Concerns such as mandatory label information, alcoholic content, the definition of "draft," Certificate of Label Approval Requirements, label standards, statements of age, storage and percentage (for example, use of the descriptive terms "oak barrels" and others) and numerous other topics are discussed at great length.
Interpreting the Proposed Rules
Attorney Ashley Brandt, writing in Libation Law Blog, interpreted some of the revisions outlined in the proposed rules. For example:
- "The new rules will reflect contemporary case law … such as the policy that the prohibition on disparaging statements on labels and advertisements does not prohibit truthful and accurate comparisons with a competitor's product."
- "The TTB will propose rules intended to protect consumers by providing more specific labeling and packaging rules."
- "The TTB promises to alleviate consumer confusion by keeping terms that apply to one commodity off labels of a different commodity." (such as wine and malt beverage labels using distilled spirits language).
If you're in the process of updating your labels to keep up with government regulations, a helpful place to begin is viewing our high-quality label printers at Argon Technology's U.S. store or Canada page.