For everyone who has ever joked that “beer calories don’t count” — Bud Light is here to tell you otherwise. Next month, the brand will debut a new large-format label showing the beer’s ingredients, calories and nutrition information.
Alcohol brands are not required to disclose nutrition facts, but in 2016, major beer brands agreed to voluntarily disclose the information on their labels by 2020. Other beers, including Corona, Guinness and Heineken, already disclose some nutrition information, but it’s written in fine print and displayed in hard-to-read places, such as the bottom of their packaging. According to the Associated Press, Bud Light will be the first brand to switch over to a large label, which looks like the black-and-white labels required by the FDA on food packaging.
So how much will a Bud Light set you back from your “New Year, new you” diet? Not too much: One 12-ounce can is 110 calories, and contains 2 percent of your recommended daily value of carbohydrates and just less than one percent protein. (Beer! It’s practically a health food!) The package lists only four ingredients: Water, barley, rice and hops. Individual bottles won’t carry the labels, but will list some of the information in small type.
“We want to be transparent and give people the thing they are used to seeing,” Andy Goeler, vice president of marketing for Bud Light, said in an interview with the AP.
Alcohol companies historically have not been required to disclose calorie counts like other food and drink makers because they are regulated by a different agency, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. While there have been campaigns to require nutrition labeling over the years, alcohol manufacturers and lobbyists fought back — with the unstated reason being that they didn’t want consumers thinking about their diets when they were trying to loosen up with a beer. A Johns Hopkins study found that the average American who drinks regularly consumes about 400 calories from alcohol per day.
Starting with Bud Light is a clever way to make the switch, too: get people used to the calorie counts on lighter beers, and maybe they won’t be as fazed by the more caloric ones. Diet website Very Well Fit lists the calorie contents of several beers, and many round out to about 150 calories. But sugary alcopops have much more: A Bud Light Lime-A-Rita weighs in at 220 calories.
Because it has “Bud Light” in its name, consumers might reasonably think that the drink has fewer calories, but that will change with the new labels. The Lime-A-Rita was the subject of a class-action lawsuit filed in November 2014, which alleged Anheuser-Busch had engaged in false advertising by calling the drinks “light” when they actually contain “significantly more calories and carbohydrates than any other Anheuser-Busch alcoholic beverage.” The suit was dismissed the following year.
As 2020 approaches, more and more beer makers will begin changing the nutrition labels on their products. And that will make it easier to drink to your health.
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