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E-Malt.com News article: USA: Big brewers agree to detailed beer labelling
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Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors and other big brewers are backing an initiative to disclose a consistent listing of calories, carbs and other information on beer labels, St. Louis Post Dispatch reported on July 12.

Following debate on the issue stretching several years, the Beer Institute, a national trade group that lobbies on behalf of the country's largest brewers, announced the 'Brewers Voluntary Disclosure Initiative' on July 12.

The initiative encourages brewers to provide more information to consumers on beer labels, the group said, by disclosing calorie, carbohydrate, protein, fat, and alcohol content information on labels. The guidelines also include displaying a freshness date or date of production. Many brewers already disclose some of this information on beer labels.

The voluntary initiative doesn't say all ingredients should be disclosed on each label, however, a measure that some have backed. Instead, the initiative says ingredients should be either disclosed on labels, or the label should include a link or QR code that refers to a website with a list of ingredients.

Some participating brewers are making the changes immediately and the trade group said brewers and importers are encouraged to achieve compliance by the end of 2020.

HeinekenUSA, Constellation Brands Beer Division, North American Breweries and Craft Brew Alliance also have agreed to follow the guidelines, the Beer Institute said. These brewers, A-B and MillerCoors produce more than 81 percent of beer sold in the U.S., based on volume.

“The Beer Institute, and its member companies, believes this is a step in the right direction to demonstrate a commitment to quality and transparency through these voluntary measures," Beer Institute CEO Jim McGreevy said in a statement.

The federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which oversees beer label approvals, said in 2013 that optional labeling of alcohol content and 'serving fact' statements are permitted.

A-B, which has its U.S. unit based in St. Louis, said it has voluntarily provided information on many of its beers sold domestically on the website www.tapintoyourbeer.com, including Budweiser and Bud Light, since December 2012. About half of its 60 core brands list the website on its bottle labels or packaging, and more are being added, A-B said.

"The Brewers’ Voluntary Disclosure Initiative reflects U.S. consumers’ increasing interest in knowing more about the products they enjoy," A-B spokeswoman Katie Petru said in an email to the Post-Dispatch.

"We will consider consumer interests as they evolve and will continue to find ways to share information with consumers in ways that are most meaningful to them, and depending on our capabilities and local regulatory requirements," she continued.

The beer label changes aren't being adopted by all brewers, according to the Brewers Association, a Colorado-based industry group that represents craft brewers that produce 6 million barrels of beer or less annually. While the group supports transparency in labeling, the BA's president and CEO Bob Pease said in an email, "the approach the large brewers have taken may not be feasible for smaller brewers, many of whom offer dozens of small scale, seasonal products every year."

The Brewers Association said it's working separately with the FDA and the USDA to develop a plan for beer styles rather than specific individual brands to be included in the USDA Nutrient Database to help members comply with FDA rules on menu labeling. "We will continue to work with our members to encourage voluntary compliance with all existing government mandates regarding labeling," Pease said.

11 July, 2016

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