How ‘Nutritious’ Is That Beer? You’re About to Find Out

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A national trade group for the U.S. brewing industry is encouraging members to disclose product information such as calories.

Many beers will soon come with their own version of the “Nutrition Facts” label found on most foods and nonalcoholic drinks.

The Beer Institute, a national trade group for the U.S. brewing industry, announced Tuesday that it’s encouraging members to disclose product information such as calories. The institute calls it the Brewers’ Voluntary Disclosure Initiative.

Beer companies that agree to these standards will display:

  • Calorie, carbohydrate, protein, fat and alcohol-content information on all labels.
  • Product ingredients on either the label or secondary packaging via a list of ingredients, a reference to a website, or a code that can be scanned with a smartphone.
  • A freshness date or date of production on all labels or primary containers.

You should start to see the impact of this initiative as early as “immediately,” according to the Beer Institute, which notes that “many members currently provide some nutritional facts and ingredients information.”

Member companies that have agreed to follow the Brewers’ Voluntary Disclosure Initiative standards include:

  • Anheuser-Busch
  • MillerCoors
  • Heineken USA
  • Constellation Brands Beer Division
  • North American Breweries
  • Craft Brew Alliance

These companies collectively produce more than 81 percent of the beer sold in the U.S., according to the institute.

Michael Jacobson, the president of the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, calls the calorie disclosure “good news for consumers” while criticizing the Brewers’ Voluntary Disclosure Initiative for not requiring all details to appear on products:

“… consumers have as much right to know what’s in their beer as in their root beer. Brewers are allowed to artificially color, flavor, sweeten, and preserve their products, as well as use foam enhancers. If the industry takes pride in its ingredients it should list them on labels and not simply on the web.”

Alcohol is not subject to the “Nutrition Facts” label mandated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture because the alcohol industry is regulated by a different federal agency, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

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