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NewsBites August 2013 Issue

Nutrition Labels Coming for Alcoholic Beverages

You may soon be able to see how many calories and carbs youíre downing with that alcoholic drinkóbut only if the beverage companies choose to tell you. The Treasury Department, which regulates alcohol through the Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau (TTB), for the first time will allow nutrition labels on beer, wine and spirits. Itís a temporary measure while the bureau continues to consider alcohol labeling rules, which a 2007 proposal would have made mandatory. Liquor companies and consumer groups pushed for the labeling, while beer bottlers are leery of reminding imbibers of their calorie counts; winemakers are expected to mostly skip the voluntary labeling to preserve the artistic appeal of their bottles.

Labels would list alcohol content as a percentage of volume, an approach favored by beer companies, rather than by fluid ounces. Otherwise, look for lots of zeroes on the new label, especially for liquor: A 1.5-ounce serving of 80-proof vodka, for example, contains 96 calories, zero carbs, 2 milligrams of phosphorus and trace amounts or zero of other nutrients. A 5-ounce glass of red wine has 125 calories, 3.8 grams of carbohydrates, 187 milligrams of potassium, and small amounts of other nutrients. A regular beer contains about 150 calories in 12 ounces, 12.6 grams of carbs, 96 milligrams potassium and smaller amounts of other minerals and vitamins.

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