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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

More than a decade ago, nutrition facts began appearing on food and nonalcoholic beverages to help guide consumers to healthier choices. But those who enjoy beer, wine or distilled spirits are given little information about what they drink.

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Now 18 consumer groups, health organizations and public health experts hope to change that by having the government require the placement of standardized labels on alcoholic beverages. The labels would list alcohol content, the amount of alcohol per serving, the definition of a standard drink, calories and other facts.

In 2007, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau proposed adding mandatory "servings facts" labels on beer, wine and distilled spirits. "We are still awaiting the final decision on that proposal," says the Wine Institute's Gladys Horiuchi.

But the proposed regulations don't call for a standardized label or require information about what counts as a drink or the alcohol content of beverages. Without that information, says Chris Waldrop of the Consumer Federation of America, "alcohol consumers continue to be left in the dark."

-- Sally Squires


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