NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Clash Over Wine-Label Rules

February 5, 1999

Following a battle which has lasted three years, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is scheduled to announce a rule today that will allow wine producers to put a label on their bottles which suggests the potential health benefits of their products.

Already, however, anti-alcohol groups and some members of Congress -- among them Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) -- are saying they will fight the BATF decision.

That decision allows two new labels to be put on wine sold in the U.S.

  • The first reads: "The proud people who made this wine encourage you to consult your family doctor about the health effect of wine consumption."
  • The second says: "To learn the health effects of wine consumption, send for the federal government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans," and gives the address for the government's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • Separately, the BATF will issue a proposed rule designed to reduce under-age alcohol consumption by prohibiting containers that look like soft-drink bottles and frozen deserts -- among other things.
  • Wine company executives see the decision as a vital step in shielding their $11 billion industry from the kind of legislative and legal assaults that have been launched against tobacco companies.

The rule is voluntary and simply allows wine makers to put the labels on their products if they so choose.

Source: Jay Solomon, "Government Rule to Let Wine Producers Use Labels That Note Benefits to Health," Wall Street Journal, February 5, 1999.


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