In the future, manufacturers could be required to list calorie counts on alcohol labels.
A consumer group coalition sued the Treasury Department on Oct. 3, stating that the department failed to properly address a 2003 petition about label transparency on alcohol products, according to a press release from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The petition called for required nutrition information on beverage labels, including alcohol content, calories, ingredients, and allergen information.
The coalition is represented by the legal department of the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Consumer Federation of America, and the National Consumers League. These three groups, as well as 66 other organizations and eight individuals, backed the 2003 petition.
Consumer health is outlined as a goal of the original petition; in the document, organizers state that consistent labeling can help consumers make better-informed decisions. Specifically, labeling stating the number of standard drinks in a bottle, as well as calorie details, could help encourage moderate drinking.
The recent lawsuit intends to force the Treasury Department to make a decision on the labeling issue, as the CSPI states.
“Imagine the chaos in the supermarket if food manufacturers could decide to list ingredients, or not; decide to disclose calories, or not; or include a uniform, easy-to-read label, or not,” CSPI president Peter G. Lurie states in the Oct. 3 release. “Well, that’s the kind of informational chaos we find today in the liquor store. After nearly 20 years of delay, it’s time for the Treasury Department to bring some order to this uneven marketplace.”
The Center for Science in the Public Interest is one of the most prominent consumer advocate groups pushing for this change, according to Vox. After the groups’ petition in 2003, alcohol manufacturers proposed optional nutrition labels, and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) offered label guidelines in 2004.
In 2013, the TTB ruled to allow alcohol manufacturers to voluntarily display serving size, alcohol content, and servings per container on labeling.
The consumer group coalition suit was filed in the District of Columbia on Monday.