U.S. District Court Judge John H. Pratt yesterday reinstated a Treasury Department rule requiring labels on alcoholic beverages to list all ingredients. The Reagan administration had tried twice to repeal it.
Pratt said administration officials had failed to provide adequate justification for their actions, which sought to overturn the rule issued by the Carter administration in 1980.
The ingredient labeling requirement, affecting all beer, wine and liquor, was originally scheduled to go into effect in 1983. But it has been held up by two attempts to repeal it and a resulting tangle of litigation. Yesterday, Pratt ordered the Treasury Department to put the rule into effect no later than next April 30. Department officials could not be reached for comment last night on whether they plan to appeal.
In 1982, Pratt voided the Reagan administration's first attempt to rescind the rule. While an appeal was under way, the Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms issued another rule, requiring disclosure of only one substance, the color additive Yellow Dye No. 5. It said no other substance presented enough of a health risk to be included on beverage labels. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which sought the labeling requirement and pressed the lawsuits, said the second effort at repeal was almost identical to the first and should be rejected for the same reasons.
Yesterday, Pratt agreed. He said the administration not only used the same arguments twice but also "lifted . . . large portions" of the language from earlier court briefs. He called the labeling rule a "compromise" that would provide information to allergic consumers and "not be unduly burdensome to the industry."