US Dietary Guidelines

The Issue: Every five years the Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) have published the US Dietary Guidelines. Since the first edition of the Dietary Guidelines in 1980—and every iteration since—the U.S. government has advised adults who choose to consume alcohol to do so in moderation. The DGAs also include guidance for those who should not drink alcohol at all (such as those who are pregnant or under the legal drinking age). The guidelines provide advice from the federal government on how many alcoholic beverages a person can consume each day and be reasonably assured there will be no significant health consequences. The current guideline is two drinks (a drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of spirits) per day for an adult man, and one drink per day for an adult woman.

Wine Industry Impact: Wine is best consumed in moderation and with food. The US Dietary Guidelines do not recommend consumption of alcohol, but they outline what a safe and responsible amount of consumption is. The guidelines allow our industry to promote responsible consumption. 

Background: There is some confusion as to what the guidelines actually mean in terms of safe consumption. As written, the guidelines outline the dangers of alcohol abuse and heavy consumption. They certainly do not recommend alcohol consumption. What they do say is that, if you do consume alcohol, a safe amount is two drinks per day for men, and one drink per day for women. In reality, many consumers do not drink alcohol every day, and the vast majority of alcohol consumers do consume in a moderate and safe way. But we must stress that it is not a recommendation to drink, it is a guideline for what is safe for people who choose to do so.

In April 2022 it was announced that the alcohol research review would be conducted in a dual track of review at both the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Specifically, the SAMHSA review will be led by the existing Interagency Coordinating Committee for the Prevention of Underage Drinking (ICCPUD), which was established by the Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act (STOP Act) with a mission to “provide resources and information on underage drinking prevention, intervention, treatment, enforcement, and research.” Notably, ICCPUD membership does not include USDA.

While HHS and USDA have confirmed that alcohol recommendations will be included in the 2025-2030 DGAs, it is unclear what this multi-layered process for developing those recommendations will entail. According to the DGA website, the NASEM review will be considered by SAMHSA, as one piece of their review, and SAMHSA will then draft DGA recommendations for adult alcohol use. The NASEM work is being conducted by experts who were publicly nominated and vetted, with a defined scope of research, and offers ongoing opportunities for public comment and stakeholder participation in meetings. In contrast, very little is known about the SAMHSA work.

Nearly two years after the announcement that alcohol would be reviewed separately from the general DGA review, very few details have been provided for the SAMHSA review. For example, no detail has been provided on the scope of work and scientific review protocol, the members and qualifications of the subcommittee/panel tasked with the work, and how their review will interplay with the concurrent NASEM review. Moreover, HHS had been publicly claiming that the SAMHSA work had not begun, yet SAMHSA recently stated that ICCPUD had convened multiple meetings with a technical subcommittee and an external “scientific expert panel” over the last year without any public notice or opportunity for participation.

Wine Industry Position: WineAmerica supports the continued inclusion of alcohol in the 2025-2030 US Dietary Guidelines in their current form. We urge HHS and USDA to ensure an alcohol review process that involves stakeholder input and public comment, and that is transparent, deliberative and science-driven.

Read the current guidelines here: