TTB Lifts Moratorium on Health-related Wine Labels
Feb 28, 2003
Wine Institute Commends Treasury Department's Decision To Lift Moratorium On Health-Related Directional Statements
SAN FRANCISCO - Effective June 1, 2003, the Treasury Department's Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has lifted a 1999 moratorium on its approval of health-related directional statements, such as a wine label referring consumers to the U.S. Government's "Dietary Guidelines for Americans" to learn the health effects of wine consumption or to their family doctors for such information.
The TTB determined that wine, beer and spirits could carry directional health statements, provided a disclaimer is included such as "This statement should not encourage you to drink or increase your alcohol consumption. " The TTB ruling states "Éwe recognize that the producers of alcohol beverages may have a protected right under the First Amendment to convey the message on labels and in advertisements that consumers should refer to their doctors or the Government's Dietary Guidelines for additional information about the effects on health of alcohol consumption."
"We believe science has prevailed over politics," stated Wine Institute President and CEO John De Luca. "We view our directional wine label statement as a responsible education tool that encourages consumers to read the Dietary Guidelines, the official U.S. nutrition policy publication. The wine industry believes that the American public has the right to know, and should be trusted to handle the information on the potential health risks and benefits of alcohol consumption, and the governmental advice for those who choose to drink, to do so sensibly and in moderation."
The San Francisco-based Wine Institute had a directional "Dietary Guidelines" label statement originally approved February 5, 1999, by then Secretary of Treasury Robert Rubin, following three years of study by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). Recently, ATF alcohol authority was reorganized into the TTB. Subsequently, ATF approved 99 directional wine labels, but initiated a moratorium on further approvals on April 22, 1999 when former Senator Strom Thurmond held up key appointments in the Treasury Department. Senator Thurmond released his hold on the appointments when Secretary Rubin agreed to have public hearings to determine whether the "negative consequences of alcohol consumption or abuse" disqualify these products from carrying any health-related statements. ATF held hearings both in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco in the year 2000, which culminated in today's important decision for Wine Institute's continuing educational outreach efforts.