The majority of packaged beer sold in America will soon include “serving facts” – the alcohol equivalent of the “nutrition facts” labeling seen on food products – thanks to a new voluntary industry initiative. Though the new labels stand to benefit consumers upset with years of being left in the dark about the basic nutritional information of their brews, the info could also be a rude awakening for the blissfully ignorant who may suddenly realize how badly their beer consumption has been blowing up their diets.
Most of the largest members of the Beer Institute, an American brewing trade organization, have agreed to use the new labels including Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, HeinekenUSA, Constellation Brands Beer Division, North American Breweries and Craft Brew Alliance – a group that spans a large amount of brands, everything from Bud Light to Kona Brewing, and includes approximately 81 percent of the beer sold by volume in the US. “Serving facts” should arrive on some packaging “immediately” with total compliance being encouraged by 2020.
Beyond simply listing those dreaded calories, the initiative suggests providing information on carbohydrate, protein and fat content, as well as the ABV already included on most beers. The labels also should “disclose ingredients in products on either the label or secondary packaging via a list of ingredients, a reference to a website or a QR code.” Lastly, brands following the guidelines are asked “to clearly display a freshness date or date of production on all labels or primary containers.”
As the Beer Institute states, the so-called “Voluntary Disclosure Initiative” will be beneficial as it “provides consumers with meaningful information and will ultimately empower their decision making regarding the beverages they choose.” However, as the trade group itself admits, the timing also “will be helpful to restaurants as they comply with menu labeling requirements that go into effect in May 2017” as part of the Affordable Care Act.
Of course, there’s nothing preventing all brewers from using these new suggested labels, though many smaller brewers who produce a large and ever-changing lineup of beers have spoken out about the difficulty of being able to afford to test for calories and other info on all of their wide range of products. If you’re the kind of lush who prefers not to know that you just drank a day’s worth of calories in beer, consider it one more reason to drink up from these brands.