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Federal government unveils new marketing rules for alcoholic beverages.

Makers of alcoholic beverages will soon be required to follow new rules that limit their ability to make claims about the possible health benefits of their products under a new final rulemaking to be published by the Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, the department announced February 28. Some firms marketing alcoholic beverages have been seeking permission from the government over the past several years to include statements on their products and advertising that claim there are certain health advantages to consuming alcohol.

Treasury, however, said while some studies have shown that moderate consumption of alcohol may have beneficial health effects for some, "it is also clear that alcohol can have devastating effects on some individuals and any individual who regularly consumes large amounts."

Even so, Treasury said although "the deleterious effects of alcohol lead many to strongly oppose allowing any statements that might encourage consumption, those concerns must be balanced against first-amendment protections of commercial free speech."

As a result, Treasury said it has concluded after lengthy discussion with the Food and Drug Administration that it will adopt rules prohibiting alcohol labels and advertisements from containing any health claim that is untrue or tends to create a misleading impression.

The rule indicates that a health claim will be considered misleading unless it is "truthful and substantiated by scientific or medical evidence, discloses the health risks associated with both moderate and heavier levels of alcohol consumption, and outlines the categories of individuals for whom any alcohol consumption poses risks."

Treasury also said even "directional statements," which merely direct the consumer in a neutral manner to a third party for additional information, are presumed to be misleading in the labeling or advertising of alcohol beverages unless accompanied by a disclaimer, such as: "This statement should not encourage you to drink or to increase your alcohol consumption for health reasons."

The department said the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) will continue to consult with FDA, as needed, on the use of specific health claims on labels. Although advertisements are not covered by FDA's labeling regulations and are not subject to mandatory pre-approval by TTB, the agency said it has the authority to take an administrative action to seek to have the advertisement withdrawn.
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Comment:Federal government unveils new marketing rules for alcoholic beverages.
Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 10, 2003
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