Why alcohol doesn’t come with nutrition facts

Why alcohol doesn’t come with nutrition facts

November 7, 2019 100 By William Morgan


if you go into a grocery store and you buy
pretty much anything: a bottle of water, a
bag of chips, that thing will have a nutritional
label on it
if you go buy beer or wine or liquor, it usually
doesn’t, and that’s crazy
the reason why is kind of complicated
so it all dates back to 1935
shortly after prohibition was repealed, Congress
formed a new agency that would regulate alcoholic
beverages
booze got its own agency, it wasn’t regulated
by the food and drug administration, which
meant that in 1990 when the FDA told food
companies they needed to start labeling all
of their packaged foods, that rule didn’t
apply to alcohol
in the years since, there’s been a weird hodgepodge
of complicated rules put into place for nutrition
facts on alcohol
super weird, for example, most beers are made
out of something called malted barley
but, if you’re an alcohol company and you
happen to make a beer that doesn’t have malted
barley in it
sorry, you need to put a label on that
same goes if you’re a wine maker, and say
you have a particular vintage that happens
to contain less than seven percent alcohol
by volume
sorry, put a label on that one too
but, for most of the alcohol that we drink,
labels are optional
so, they can list calorie counts if they want,
and if they do, they also have to list carbs,
protein and fat, but they can also just leave
all that out
which means that those of us who are super
conscious of ingredients or trying to count
calories are pretty much out of luck
consumer groups have tried six different times
to get the regulations changed, to get labels
put on alcoholic beverages
and they’ve even gotten close a few times,
but the beverage industry, as you might have
guessed, has some powerful lobbyists
a few different industry groups said that
if they were required to put nutrition facts
on alcohol, it would mislead consumers into
thinking that alcohol was nutritious
wine producers also said it would be way too
hard to test every single vintage for things
like calorie content or grams of sugar, especially
when these things vary so much from year to
year
in the end, the consumer groups lost their
fight
basically, regulators just sided with manufacturers
and made labels optional
the fact that alcoholic beverages don’t have
nutrition labels on them, this has consequences
for people’s health
when people don’t have information about how
many calories they’re consuming or how much
sugar, they’re not as good at making smart
decisions about how much to drink
it’s certainly not a guarentee that people
would drink more responsibly if they knew
this information, but putting it on the label
definitely can’t hurt
just from a consumer standpoint, it seems
like our right to know that, if we know it
for bottled water, if we know it for a package
of chips, it’s really bizarre that we’re not
allowed to know it for beer