TTB Issues Ruling Allowing Voluntary Serving Facts Statements on Alcohol Beverage Labels

On May 28, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) issued a ruling (Ruling 2013-2) allowing for voluntary labeling of serving facts and nutritional information on alcohol beverage labels. 

The ruling allows “serving facts” statements that include the serving size, the number of servings per container, the number of calories, and the number of grams of carbohydrates, protein, and fat per serving.  Additionally, serving facts statements may include information about the alcohol content of the product, as a percentage of alcohol by volume, and may include a statement of the fluid ounces of pure ethyl alcohol per serving.  Industry members will not need to apply for new Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) to add a serving facts statement if it conforms to the examples contained in the ruling.

For wine, the standard serving size for table wine (7-16% alcohol by volume) is 5 ounces.  For dessert wine (16-24% alcohol by volume) is 2.5 ounces.  This does not mean that the official definition of table wine is now 7-16%.  It is still 7-14% alcohol by volume, but the TTB realizes that many wines not considered true dessert wines are now over 14.1% alcohol by volume.

Calorie, carbohydrate, fat and protein information must also be included with the serving facts information on the panel.  All nutritional information must undergo proper laboratory analysis.

The voluntary labeling of nutritional information and serving facts information does not preclude any of the other required information on a wine label.  If the alcohol content is listed on the serving facts panel, it still must be included on the label for COLA approval.  A new COLA approval is NOT required if the serving facts panel is added to a label that has already been approved by TTB.

To read Ruling 2013-2 and to see examples of allowable serving facts panels please go here:  http://www.ttb.gov/rulings/2013-2.pdf

If you have any questions, please contact Michael Kaiser at mkaiser@wineamerica.org or 202-223-5172. 

Three Power Packed Days at Annual DC Fly-in

Some 38 WineAmerica Board and State Association Council members gathered May 13-15 for WineAmerica’s annual spring policy briefing, board meeting, and Hill visits. What a time it was to be in the nation’s capitol, as so many critical issues were being debated in both the House and Senate during the week!

Day One started with the SAC meeting, where SAC Chair Kevin Atticks of the Maryland Wineries Association outlined WineAmerica’s intent to empower the council with greater resources to further develop the grass roots capabilities of WineAmerica. This activism has long been WineAmerica’s point of distinction, which will continue at an even higher level in the future. The fifteen members of the council present also conducted their traditional roundtable, highlighting the issues in each of their regions.

Guest speaker Kam Quarles of the firm McDermott Will and Emery outlined challenging themes facing us as we seek forward motion on the Farm Bill.  The Bill maintains current funding levels for programs we are all interested in – National Clean Plant Network, Specialty Crop Research and Block Grants, and Market Access Program funds for export development. We have been advocating for the bill to pass with those programs intact.

Another guest speaker, Craig Regelbrugge of the American Nursery and Landscape Association updated us on SB 744 – the Border Security, Economic Development and Immigration Reform Bill. It is a complicated piece of legislation that contains critical reforms that will help us maintain a steady, reliable ag labor force. There are two main components, a “blue card” for workers presently in the country, and a program for future workers to enter the country. A major departure is that this program will be administered by USDA, instead of the Department of Labor. Specific wages are outlined for six classifications of work, and there are caps as to how many workers can participate. Again, we worked the Hill hard in support of this bill.

We also heard from Susan Evans of the Treasury’s Tax and Trade Bureau about improvements the agency is implementing in the face of budget and staff cuts. Her presentation exemplified the collegial relationship between WineAmerica and TTB.

Day Two began with Chairman Eddie O’Keefe presiding over the Board of Directors meeting, where staff updated the members on a flurry of recent activities and member benefits developments. UPS representatives described our new discount shipping program, which now allows us to service California. We also had an update on the TiPS responsible server training program, which has generated a tremendous amount of participation. Our insurance brokers outlined an exciting new opportunity for WineAmerica to develop its own “captive insurance” program (call for details, it is complicated!), which has great potential for cost savings.  Lastly our own Tara Good walked us through the new, improved WineAmerica website. Not only is it more user friendly, we have much more internal control of the content and ability to make our own edits to the site.

At lunch we were addressed by Congressman Kurt Schrader of Oregon. While he agreed that the environment on the Hill was challenging, he outlined the progress on issues of importance to us, and encourages us to stay engaged. And that is what we did, as all those in attendance left the lunch for meetings with their Representatives and staff.

The evening was punctuated by the stellar “Taste of America” on Capitol Hill – where wines from 22 states were poured for a crowd of over 100, which included Members of Congress and many staffers. It was an excellent opportunity to show our industry strength to decision makers in our government. A special thanks to all the state associations and wineries who donated wine and those on hand to present the wine.

Day Three was unstructured so that our members could engage with legislators on Capitol Hill. WA staff assisted in arranging dozens of meetings with legislators, where we urgently advocated on behalf of our issues.

Compliments go to our great staff, Tara Good and Michael Kaiser, for arranging such a compelling and well organized week of meetings, and to the Board and SAC members who took the time, effort, and expense to participate.

Stay tuned for our next opportunity to gather, which will be at Geneva on the Lake, Ohio, November 4-6.

Cheers,

Mark Chandler

Executive Director

Specialty Crops Continue Strong Momentum in House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill

The following is a press release from the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, of which WineAmerica is a member.

Changes to Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program concern industry

WASHINGTON, D.C

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, a national coalition of more than 120 organizations representing growers of fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, nursery plants and other products, commends House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, Ranking Member Collin Peterson and committee members for passing their version of the Farm Bill on Wednesday.

The committee’s approval of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 by a bipartisan 36-10 vote is the second positive step for specialty crops this week, coming after the Senate Agriculture Committee passed its version of the Farm Bill on Tuesday. The full House is expected to take up the bill in June.

The Alliance welcomes the Committee’s continued commitment to policies that enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of specialty crop agriculture. The investments made in the bill reinforce many of the policies that were included in the Senate-passed legislation.

Included in the House version are provisions funding key specialty crop priorities such as:

  • Specialty Crop Block Grants funded at $72.5 million in fiscal 2014-2017 and $85 million in FY2018
  • Specialty Crop Research Initiative funded at $50 million in FY2014-15; $55 million in FY2016-2017; and $65 million in FY2018
  • Coordinated Plant Management Program funded at $62.5 million in FY2014-2017 and $75 million in FY2018

  • Market Access Program and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops fully funded at 2008 Farm Bill levels
  • Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program fully funded at 2008 Farm Bill levels
  • Section 32 specialty crop purchases at 2008 levels
  • DoD Fresh program fully funded at $50 million per year consistent with 2008 Farm Bill levels

These funding commitments underscore recognition by the House of these programs’ value and their tremendous importance to the specialty crop industry.

However, members of the Alliance are disappointed over language in the House bill that signals a significant policy change to the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, a landmark program that provides healthful fresh produce to up to 3 million school children. It is critically important that the integrity of the program’s mission of promoting good eating habits in children be preserved.

The Alliance will continue to work with industry allies in Congress to ensure the program’s original mission of promoting fresh fruits and vegetables is sustained as the Farm Bill works its way through Congress and to the president’s desk.

“Most of the goals and critical priorities that the specialty crop community has been fighting for over the years have been strengthened or maintained by the House Committee bill, and we thank the Committee for its work,” said Western Growers’ President and CEO Tom Nassif, a co-chair of the Alliance. “We would be remiss, however, in not mentioning that we hope the full House strengthens provisions around crop insurance for our industry as well as the fresh fruit and vegetable program.”

The co-chairs also urged Congress to continue working toward Farm Bill passage.

“The strong, bipartisan vote out of the House Agriculture Committee sends a clear message for the need to enact a Farm Bill without further delay. We look forward to working with the chairman, ranking member and House leadership to schedule floor time for this vital bill so that specialty crop producers can get back to what they do best: growing high-quality fruits and vegetables for America and the world,” said John Keeling, National Potato Council executive vice president and CEO.

Mike Stuart, president of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, added, “The important work this week by the House and Senate agriculture committees puts us that much closer to achieving a Farm Bill this year that will help specialty crop agriculture

stay strong and competitive.  The investments these bills make will allow American farmers to continue growing fresh produce that promotes health and reduces the risk of chronic obesity- related diseases.”

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance is a national coalition of more than 120 organizations representing growers of fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, nursery plants and other products. The Alliance was established to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crop agriculture and improve the health of Americans by broadening the scope of U.S. agricultural public policy. For more information, visit www.strongeragriculture.org.

 

Senate Agriculture Committee Indicates Support of Specialty Crops with Farm Bill Passage

The following is a press release from the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance on the passage of the Senate version of the 2013 Farm Bill.  WineAmerica is a member of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance.

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance today commended the efforts of Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and the Senate Agriculture Committee in advancing the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 in a 15-5 vote. The Committee’s proposed Farm Bill includes many of the key priorities for specialty crop producers.

The Alliance has worked closely with key policymakers on the Committee to secure support for programs of critical importance to the fresh fruit and vegetable industry.
The bill includes research, pest and disease mitigation, trade, nutrition, and other priority programs that help to ensure producers can compete in the marketplace and meet the needs of American consumers.

“We’re encouraged at this very positive step,” said Mike Stuart, president of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association and a co-chair of the Alliance. “By investing in key priorities of the specialty crop industry, this bill will help put more fruits and vegetables on Americans’ plates and foster strong local economies. We urge the Senate to keep up the momentum by passing this bill.”

The proposals of greatest benefit to the fresh produce industry included in the legislation with a five-year authorization are

  • Specialty Crop Block Grants funded at $70 million per year
  •  Specialty Crop Research Initiative funded at $25 million in fiscal year 2014; $30 million in FY 2015-16; $65 million in FY2017; $50 million in FY2018
  • Coordinated Plant Management Program funded at $60 million in FY2014-2017 and $65 million in FY2018
  • Market Access Program and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops fully funded at 2008 Farm Bill levels
  • Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program fully funded at 2008 Farm Bill levels
  • Section 32 specialty crop purchases funded at 2008 Farm Bill levels
  • DoD Fresh program fully funded at $50 million per year consistent with 2008 levels

“Fruit and vegetable growers in this country welcome the kind of assistance government provides for things beyond the control of farmers such as funds for food safety enhancement, pest and disease intervention and eradication, and increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables that contribute to healthy diets that fight against chronic disease,” said Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers and Alliance co-chair. “The resources made available in this bill will go far to help develop better ways to grow, distribute and safe guard nutritious food Americans need for good health.”

The Senate action restarts a farm bill legislative process that stalled last year when the House failed to consider the measure approved by the House Agriculture Committee.

“This bipartisan action by the Senate Agriculture Committee begins a process that will be taken up by the House Agriculture Committee later this week that can result in passage of legislation that removes the uncertainty over federal farm and nutrition policy that has lingered under the short-term extension previously approved by Congress,”said National Potato Council Executive Vice President and CEO John Keeling, also an Alliance co-chair.

The legislation now goes to the full Senate for debate. The House Agriculture Committee is expected to take action on its version of the bill on Wednesday.

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance is a national coalition of more than 120 organizations representing growers of fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, nursery plants and other products. The alliance was established to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crop agriculture and improve the health of Americans by broadening the scope of U.S. agricultural public policy. For more information, visit www.strongeragriculture.org
.

TTB Issues Industry Circular on Social Media Advertising

The TTB has issued a new Industry Circular outlining the guidelines for social media advertising by wineries, breweries and distilleries.  This includes Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Mobile Apps, and Blogs.  The industry circular can be viewed by following this link:

http://www.ttb.gov/industry_circulars/archives/2013/13-01.html

Also, here is a reposting of an article WineAmerica published covering advetising.

If you have any questions please contact Michael Kaiser at mkaiser@wineamerica.org

Make Sure Your Advertising is TTB Compliant

By Michael Kaiser

The TTB doesn’t merely collect your taxes and approved your labels, they also regulate advertising for alcoholic beverages. Now your advertisements do not need to be approved by the TTB, but they must be complaint with the regulations and it is up to the winery or “responsible advertiser” to make sure the advertisements are complaint.

Let’s examine what is considered by TTB to be an advertisement. According to TTB:

The regulations define the term”advertisement” as any written or verbal statement, illustration, or depiction which is in, or calculated to induce sales in, interstate or foreign commerce, or is disseminated by mail. Examples include ads in newspapers or magazines, trade booklets, menus, wine cards, leaflets, circulars, mailers, book inserts, catalogs, promotional materials, or sales pamphlets. The definition includes any written, printed, graphic, or other material accompanying the container; markings on cases, billboards, signs, or other outdoor display; and broadcasts made via radio, television, or in any other media. Though not specifically listed, this definition includes website and other Internet-based advertising.

That last sentence is very important. The regulations for labeling and advertising of wine have not been updated for quite some time, and they were originally written before the Internet became what it is today. So the TTB places Internet advertising under the “any other media” umbrella. The TTB considers Facebook and other social media sites to be advertising.

 

Required Information

There is some required information for advertising material. They are listed in the regulations (27 CFR Part 4.62) as the following:

 

  • Responsible advertiser. The advertisement shall state the name and address of the permittee responsible for its publication or broadcast. Street number and name may be omitted in the address.
  • Class, type, and distinctive designation. The advertisement shall contain a conspicuous statement of the class, type, or distinctive designation to which the product belongs, corresponding with the statement of class, type, or distinctive designation which is required to appear on the label of the product.
  • Exception. (1) If an advertisement refers to a general wine line or all of the wine products of one company, whether by the company name or by the brand name common to all the wine in the line, the only mandatory information necessary is the name and address of the responsible advertiser. This exception does not apply where only one type of wine is marketed under the specific brand name advertised. (2) On consumer specialty items, the only information necessary is the company name or brand name of the product.

Prohibited Information

As with wine label, there are prohibited practices for wine advertising. The regulations (27 CFR Part 4.64) list them as the following.

 

  • Any statement that is false or untrue in any material particular, or that, irrespective of falsity, directly, or by ambiguity, omission, or inference, or by the addition of irrelevant, scientific or technical matter tends to create a misleading impression.
  • Any statement that is disparaging of a competitor’s products.
  • Any statement, design, device, or representation which is obscene or indecent.
  • Any statement, design, device, or representation of or relating to analyses, standards, or tests, irrespective of falsity, which the appropriate TTB officer finds to be likely to mislead the consumer.
  • Any statement, design, device, or representation of or relating to any guarantee, irrespective of falsity, which the appropriate TTB officer finds to be likely to mislead the consumer. Money-back guarantees are not prohibited.
  • Any statement that the wine is produced, blended, bottled, packed, or sold under, or in accordance with, any municipal, State, or Federal Government authorization, law, or regulations; and if a municipal, State, or Federal permit number is stated, the permit number shall not be accompanied by any additional statement relating thereto.
  • Any statement of bonded winecellar and bonded winery numbers unless stated in direct conjunction with the name and address of the person operating such winery or storeroom. Statement of bonded winecellar and bonded winery numbers may be made in the following form: “Bonded Winecellar No. __,” “Bonded Winery No. __,” “B. W. C. No. __,” “B. W. No. __.” No additional reference thereto shall be made, nor shall any use be made of such statement that may convey the impression that the wine has been made or matured under Government supervision or in accordance with Government specifications or standards.
  • Any statement, design, device, or representation which relates to alcohol content or which tends to create the impression that a wine contains distilled spirits, is comparable to a distilled spirit, or has intoxicating qualities.
  • Any word in the brand name or class and type designation which is the name of a distilled spirits product or which simulates, imitates, or creates the impression that the wine so labeled is, or is similar to, any product customarily made with a distilled spirits base.

Additionally, wine advertising may not include information that is deemed be inconsistent with labeling. Any label depicted on a bottle in an advertisement shall be a reproduction of an approved label.

Further restricted items on wine advertisements are:

  • Statement of age. No statement of age or representation relative to age (including words or devices in any brand name or mark) shall be made, except (1) for vintage wine, in accordance with the provisions of §4.27; (2) references in accordance with §4.38(f); or (3) use of the word “old” as part of a brand name.
  • Statement of bottling dates. The statement of any bottling date shall not be deemed to be a representation relative to age, if such statement appears without undue emphasis in the following form: “Bottled in __” (inserting the year in which the wine was bottled).
  • Statement of miscellaneous dates. No date, except with respect to statement of vintage year and bottling date, shall be stated unless, in addition thereto, and in direct conjunction therewith, in the same size and kind of printing there shall be stated an explanation of the significance of such date: Provided, That if any date refers to the date of establishment of any business, such date shall be stated without undue emphasis and in direct conjunction with the name of the person to whom it refers.
  • Flags, seals, coats of arms, crests, and other insignia. No advertisement shall contain any statement, design, device, or pictorial representation of or relating to, or capable of being construed as relating to, the armed forces of the United States, or of the American flag, or of any emblem, seal, insignia, or decoration associated with such flag or armed forces; nor shall any advertisement contain any statement, device, design, or pictorial representation of or concerning any flag, seal, coat of arms, crest, or other insignia likely to mislead the consumer to believe that the product has been endorsed, made, or used by, or produced for, or under the supervision of, or in accordance with the specifications of the government, organization, family, or individual with whom such flag, seal, coat of arms, crests, or insignia is associated.
  • Statements indicative of origin. No statement, design, device, or representation which tends to create the impression that the wine originated in a particular place or region, shall appear in any advertisement unless the label of the advertised product bears an appellation of origin, and such appellation of origin appears in the advertisement in direct conjunction with the class and type designation.
  • Use of the word “importer” or similar words. The word importer or similar words shall not appear in advertisements of domestic wine except as part of the bona fide name of the permittee by or for whom, or of a retailer for whom, such wine is bottled, packed or distributed: Provided, That in all cases where such words are used as part of such name, there shall be stated the words “Product of the United States” or similar words to negate any impression that the product is imported, and such negating statements shall appear in the same size and kind of printing as such name.
  • Confusion of brands. Two or more different brands or lots of wine shall not be advertised in one advertisement (or in two or more advertisements in one issue of a periodical or newspaper, or in one piece of other written, printed, or graphic matter) if the advertisement tends to create the impression that representations made as to one brand or lot apply to the other or others, and if as to such latter the representations contravene any provision of §§4.60 through 4.64 or are in any respect untrue.
  • Deceptive advertising techniques. Subliminal or similar techniques are prohibited. “Subliminal or similar techniques,” as used in this part, refers to any device or technique that is used to convey, or attempts to convey, a message to a person by means of images or sounds of a very brief nature that cannot be perceived at a normal level of awareness.

Health-related statements:

  • Health-related statement means any statement related to health and includes statements of a curative or therapeutic nature that, expressly or by implication, suggest a relationship between the consumption of alcohol, wine, or any substance found within the wine, and health benefits or effects on health. The term includes both specific health claims and general references to alleged health benefits or effects on health associated with the consumption of alcohol, wine, or any substance found within the wine, as well as health-related directional statements. The term also includes statements and claims that imply that a physical or psychological sensation results from consuming the wine, as well as statements and claims of nutritional value ( e.g., statements of vitamin content). Statements concerning caloric, carbohydrate, protein, and fat content do not constitute nutritional claims about the product.
  • Specific health claim is a type of health-related statement that, expressly or by implication, characterizes the relationship of the wine, alcohol, or any substance found within the wine, to a disease or health-related condition. Implied specific health claims include statements, symbols, vignettes, or other forms of communication that suggest, within the context in which they are presented, that a relationship exists between wine, alcohol, or any substance found within the wine, and a disease or health-related condition.
  • Health-related directional statement is a type of health-related statement that directs or refers consumers to a third party or other source for information regarding the effects on health of wine or alcohol consumption.

Rules for advertising

  • Health-related statements. In general, advertisements may not contain any health-related statement that is untrue in any particular or tends to create a misleading impression as to the effects on health of alcohol consumption. TTB will evaluate such statements on a case-by-case basis and may require as part of the health-related statement a disclaimer or some other qualifying statement to dispel any misleading impression conveyed by the health-related statement. Such disclaimer or other qualifying statement must appear as prominent as the health-related statement.
  • Specific health claims. A specific health claim will not be considered misleading if it is truthful and adequately substantiated by scientific or medical evidence; sufficiently detailed and qualified with respect to the categories of individuals to whom the claim applies; adequately discloses the health risks associated with both moderate and heavier levels of alcohol consumption; and outlines the categories of individuals for whom any levels of alcohol consumption may cause health risks. This information must appear as part of the specific health claim and in a manner as prominent as the specific health claim.
  • Health-related directional statements. A statement that directs consumers to a third party or other source for information regarding the effects on health of wine or alcohol consumption is presumed misleading unless it: Directs consumers in a neutral or other non-misleading manner to a third party or other source for balanced information regarding the effects on health of wine or alcohol consumption; and includes as part of the health-related directional statement, and in a manner as prominent as the health-related directional statement, the following disclaimer: “This statement should not encourage you to drink or increase your alcohol consumption for health reasons;” or includes as part of the health-related directional statement, and in a manner as prominent as the health-related directional statement, some other qualifying statement that the appropriate TTB officer finds is sufficient to dispel any misleading impression conveyed by the health-related directional statement.

It is clear that the TTB has an extensive list of prohibited practices for advertising of wine (and other alcoholic beverages) but it is consistent with the prohibited practices on wine labels. If you have any questions about anything listed in this blog post please let us know and we will clarify them further for you. It is essential for wineries to be compliant with TTB advertising regulations.