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Government push for nutrition label on beer, #wine, and spirits – will it happen in SA?

Following the SA health minister declaring war on alcohol advertising we wondered how long until SA gets the USA treatment?

Ever wonder how many calories are in your glass of wine, bottle of beer or shot of whiskey?

With light-beer makers touting calorie content on their brews and controversies over flavored alcoholic drinks such as Four Loco, the federal Tax and Trade Bureau, which regulates alcohol labeling in the United States, is renewing a push for everything from wine, beer, and vodka to have calories and nutritional information.

While slapping more nutritional information on beer and wine could be welcome for carb and calorie counters, it could be a headache for producers, who fear they would be obliged to pay for expensive tests and change labels more frequently.

Robert Mazza, owner of Mazza Vineyard in North East, Erie County, and president of the Pennsylvania Winery Association, said the problem is the testing more than the labeling. Only the largest of wineries have the laboratory and equipment muscle to conduct the complex tests required to break a beverage down to its nutritional components.

“A small winery makes small batches of many wines,” Mr. Mazza said. “You’d have to go to an outside laboratory.”

Mark Lehman, co-owner of Breaker Brewing Co. in Plains, makes beer in 93-gallon batches – each one slightly different from the other. Depending upon the proposed requirements, he might have to get expensive testing and new labels for each batch.

“People are more health conscious,” Mr. Lehman said. “Depending upon what the final requirement would be, it could be costly.”

Beer and spirits writer Lew Bryson supports the move, so long as small brewers, vintners and distillers are exempt just as small food producers are exempt from labeling.

“This is happening to everything,” Mr. Bryson said. “Why bottled water would have nutritionals on it and not bottled wine is beyond me.”

But do consumers want this information?

Sal Maiolatesi, owner of Maiolatesi Wine Cellars in Scott Twp., doesn’t think so. He occasionally has a tasting room visitor ask in general about the caloric content of wine, but never had an inquiry about calories or nutritional content in his wines.

“I get far more questions and calls about sulfur in wine,” he said, citing a commonly used wine preservative. “I really don’t think consumers are that interested in it.”

But Mr. Bryson thinks many people do want to know calories. Advertising behind many low-calorie beers highlights the issue for consumers.



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