Frequently Asked Questions

TTB Ruling 2004-1

I. Labels

Q: If my malt beverage is bottled in 10 fl. oz. containers, should the statement of average analysis on the label be stated per container size (10 fl. oz.) or per serving size (12 fl. oz.)?

A: The statement of average analysis may refer to either the 10 fl. oz. container size or the 12 fl. oz. serving size. You may use a statement of average analysis that is stated per container size if the container is equal to or less than a single serving size. Thus, the label for this product may state the average analysis per 10 fl. oz. container. However, if you wish, you may instead use the serving size (12 fl. oz.) in the statement of average analysis.

Last reviewed/updated: 04/07/2004

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Q: Does a product qualify for the designation "low carbohydrate" based on the number of carbohydrates per serving size or per container size?

A: The "low carbohydrate" designation is based on the serving size. TTB Ruling 2004-1 provides that TTB will approve the use of the term "low carbohydrate" (or "low carb") on labels and in advertisements where a statement of average analysis is present, and the standard serving size for the product (12 fl. oz. for malt beverages; 5 fl. oz. for wines, and 1.5 fl. oz. for distilled spirits) contains no more than 7 grams of carbohydrates. Thus, for example, if a product has 7 grams of carbohydrates per 10 fl. oz. bottle, it would have 8.4 grams of carbohydrates per 12 fl. oz. serving. This product would not qualify as a "low carbohydrate" alcohol beverage.

Last reviewed/updated: 04/07/2004

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Q: My "light" beer does not qualify as a "low-carbohydrate" product, since it has 10 grams of carbohydrates per 12 fl. oz. serving. However, this carbohydrate content is lower than my regular beer, which has 15 grams of carbohydrates per serving. How can I put this information on the label?

A: As long as you put a statement of average analysis on the label, you may also include other references to the carbohydrate content of the product. You may use the term "reduced carbohydrate" or "lower carbohydrate" or any similar term on a label that bears a statement of average analysis, as long as the term is used as part of a statement that specifies the number of carbohydrates per serving size, and compares that number with the number of carbohydrates in another specified product that you produce.

Last reviewed/updated: 04/07/2004

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Q: The U.S. Dietary Guidelines define a serving of alcohol to include a 1.5 fl. oz. serving of an 80-proof distilled spirits product. The ruling defines a serving of distilled spirits as 1.5 fl. oz, regardless of the proof. Why isn't the standard serving size based on alcohol content?

A: TTB recognizes that the alcohol content of distilled spirits products may vary considerably. There are some good arguments for setting standardized serving sizes based on the alcohol content of the product. However, we believe that before we set permanent standards, we should engage in rulemaking to solicit comments from the public and the industry. Thus, pending any future rulemaking on this issue, and for the narrow purposes of TTB Ruling 2004-1, we are setting interim standards for serving sizes based on whether the product is a malt beverage, wine, or distilled spirits product, regardless of the alcohol content of the specific product.

Last reviewed/updated: 04/07/2004

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Q: Can I put abbreviated references to calorie or carbohydrate content, such as "3.2 carbs" or " 96 calories and 2.4 carbs," on the brand label of a product?

A: The ruling allows the use of truthful and non-misleading abbreviated references to calorie or carbohydrate content in addition to, but not in lieu of, a statement of average analysis. These statements must be consistent with the statement of average analysis that appears elsewhere on the label.

Last reviewed/updated: 04/07/2004

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Q: Are labels for kegs of beer now subject to the requirements of TTB Ruling 2004-1?

A: Yes.

Last reviewed/updated: 04/07/2004

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Q: What about malt beverage cases, cartons and carriers? Must I put a statement of average analysis on a case of beer if the case bears a calorie or carbohydrate representation?

A: Assuming that the cans or bottles of beer within the case, carton, or carrier are appropriately labeled with a statement of average analysis, there is no requirement that you also put a statement of average analysis on a malt beverage case, carton or carrier.

Last reviewed/updated: 04/07/2004

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Q: Last year, I obtained TTB approval of malt beverage labels that do not comply with the new requirements of TTB Ruling 2004-1. Can I continue to use these labels?

A: TTB Ruling 2004-1 takes effect immediately with respect to pending or new applications for label approval. However we recognize that there may be labels in the marketplace that are not in compliance with the ruling. We encourage holders of certificates of label approval to voluntarily surrender any such labels by September 1, 2004. After that date, we will take appropriate steps to revoke any certificates of label approval that are not in compliance with the provisions of this ruling.

Last reviewed/updated: 04/07/2004

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Q: I've invested a substantial sum of money in printing labels that do not comply with the requirements of the ruling. Can I get a "use-up" from TTB that would allow me to use these labels past the September 1, 2004 compliance date?

A: TTB is not issuing any blanket "use-ups" for labels that do not comply with the requirements of the ruling. As always, industry members may request "use-ups" based on special circumstances. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Any "use-up" requests should be submitted to TTB as early as possible, preferably by May 30, 2004.

Last reviewed/updated: 04/07/2004

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II. Advertisements

Q: The ruling applies to advertisements as well as labels. Our brewery has printed point-of-sale advertising materials that do not comply with the new requirements of the ruling. Can we get a "use-up" that authorizes us to distribute these materials beyond the compliance date of September 1, 2004?

A: The ruling's provisions with regard to advertisements take effect as of September 1, 2004. We believe that this provides industry members with an adequate period of time to use up any point-of-sale advertising materials that do not comply with the provisions of the ruling. However, we will consider individual "use-up" requests from industry members on a case-by-case basis. We encourage industry members to submit any such requests as early as possible.

Last reviewed/updated: 04/07/2004

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Q. My company has planned a series of radio advertisements that feature vignettes about the low-carbohydrate nature of our wine. How do we ensure that these advertisements are in compliance with the requirements of the ruling?

A: As of the compliance date for advertisements, September 1, 2004, the ruling requires the use of statements of average analysis in advertisements that contain caloric or carbohydrate representations. Furthermore, TTB will evaluate advertisements on a case-by-case basis to determine whether they tend to mislead consumers by implying that consumption of the alcohol beverage is a healthy part of a weight reduction or weight maintenance plan, or that consumers may drink more of such beverages because of their low calorie or carbohydrate content.

If you have questions about whether your proposed advertisements comply with the requirements of the ruling, we encourage you to submit the advertising materials for review by TTB prior to use. Upon request, we will provide written pre-clearance of the advertising materials, thus protecting you from exposure to charges of willful violations of the advertising provisions of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act).

Last reviewed/updated: 04/07/2004

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Q: My company has been using the brand name "X Light" for years. Because the term "light" refers to the fact that this is a reduced calorie beer, we've always included a statement of average analysis on our labels. However, many of our advertisements contain no other references to caloric or carbohydrate content, and it would be burdensome to revise all those advertising materials by the compliance date of September 1, 2004, in order to include a statement of average analysis. Can TTB postpone the effective date of the ruling with respect to these types of advertisements?

A: TTB Ruling 2004-1 provides that as of September 1, 2004, any advertisement containing a caloric or carbohydrate representation must include a statement of average analysis. The ruling also states that the terms "light" and "lite" may be used as part of the brand name of a wine, distilled spirits product, or malt beverage, provided that if the term implies a caloric representation, the label or advertisement must include a statement of average analysis.

After careful consideration of this issue, TTB has decided that pending rulemaking on this issue, we will not enforce the provisions of the ruling with respect to advertisements in which the only reference to calories or carbohydrates is the use of a brand name including the term "light" or "lite." TTB recognizes that these brand names have been used for decades, and that many advertisements for such products do not include any other references to caloric or carbohydrate content. Accordingly, we believe that the issue of whether such advertisements should bear statements of average analysis should be aired through the rulemaking process.

Accordingly, pending rulemaking on this issue, we will not require industry members to put statements of average analysis on advertisements where the only caloric or carbohydrate representation appearing in such advertising materials is a brand name incorporating the term "light" or "lite." This applies to advertisements such as television and radio advertisements and print advertisements in newspapers and magazines, as well as indoor and outdoor neon signs, stadium signs, bar clocks, point of sale items, wearables, novelty or promotional items, consumer specialty items, signs on vehicles, race cars, or blimps, announcements at sporting or other events, or any other advertising materials. However, if the brand or product name, or the advertising material in general, includes any additional caloric or carbohydrate representations such as "low carb" or "low calorie", any specific calorie or carbohydrate claims, or similar representations, a statement of average analysis will be required as part of the advertising material.

Our traditional policy regarding the use of the term "light" or "lite" on labels is unchanged. If the words "light" and "lite" are used as part of the brand or product name of a wine, distilled spirits product, or malt beverage, and the terms imply a caloric representation, the label must include a statement of average analysis.

Last reviewed/updated: 04/07/2004

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Q: Does TTB Ruling 2004-1 apply to advertisements that are produced, paid for, and controlled by retailers who are not producers, importers or wholesalers of alcohol beverages?

A. No. The ruling and the advertising regulations apply only to advertisements published or disseminated by any person engaged in business as a producer, rectifier, blender, importer, or wholesaler of wine, a distiller, rectifier, importer or wholesaler of distilled spirits, or a brewer, wholesaler or importer of malt beverages, directly or indirectly, or through an affiliate.

Last reviewed/updated: 04/07/2004

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Q: If a statement in an advertisement (for example "Lower your carbs", "Lower your calories" or some similar calorie or carbohydrate representation) triggers the statement of average analysis requirement, does the statement of average analysis have to appear at a particular location on the advertisement and is there a minimum type size requirement?

A: The statement of average analysis may be placed anywhere in the advertisement as long as it is clearly a part of the advertisement and not separated in any manner from the remainder of the advertisement. See 27 CFR 7.53(c), 4.63(c) and 5.64(c). However, it must be in lettering or type size sufficient to be conspicuous and readlily legible. See 27 CFR 7.53(a), 4.63(a) and 5.64(a)). What is conspicuous and readily legible will be determined on a case by case basis.

Last reviewed/updated: 04/07/2004

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Q: If advertising statements on a web site trigger the statement of average analysis requirement, where must the statement of average analysis appear on the web site?

A: Placement of the statement of average analysis on a web site will be determined on a case by case basis. Generally, if the statement appears on the web site's home page, it will meet the ruling’s requirement. However, if individual pages on the web site contain statements of caloric or carbohydrate representation, separate statements of average analysis may have to be included on those pages as well. We strongly recommend that industry members seek TTB guidance as soon as possible for planned advertising, including web page content, and for pre-clearance of web page content or other advertising materials.

Last reviewed/updated: 04/07/2004

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Q: Does the ruling apply to advertisements that are already in the marketplace prior to September 1, 2004? My company has an importer's basic permit. Two years ago, we provided retailers with consumer specialty advertising materials that do not comply with the requirements of the ruling. Are we obliged to remove these materials from the marketplace?

A: In general, on or after September 1, 2004, we will consider it a violation of the regulations to publish or disseminate advertising materials that do not comply with the provisions of the ruling. If you have already printed the advertising materials, and they have not been disseminated to retailers or consumers prior to September 1, 2004, you will need to bring these advertisements into compliance with the requirements of the ruling. On the other hand, if you disseminated consumer specialty items to retailers two years ago, and these materials do not comply with the ruling, the ruling does not require you to retrieve those items from the marketplace.

If you have already printed advertising materials that you wish to disseminate or publish on or after September 1, 2004, please note that TTB will consider individual "use-up" requests from industry members on a case-by-case basis. Such requests should be made well in advance of September 1, 2004. We strongly encourage industry members to come to TTB with use-up requests rather than trying to avoid the requirements of the ruling by distributing large quantities of non-conforming advertising materials to retailers shortly before the effective date of the ruling.

Last reviewed/updated: 04/07/2004

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Q: My company is going to pay a product placement fee so that our brand of beer, which is labeled as a "low-carbohydrate" beer, appears in a movie. The bottles of beer that will appear in the movie are appropriately labeled with a statement of average analysis. Are we required to put a separate statement of average analysis in the movie?

A: No.

Last reviewed/updated: 04/07/2004

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Q: If an advertisement for a distilled spirits product includes a caloric or carbohydrate claim for a mixed drink, should the required statement of average analysis refer to the distilled spirits product itself or the mixed drink? For example, our advertisement for rum sets out the calorie and carbohydrate content of a rum and diet cola. Should the statement of average analysis include the diet cola?

A: This will be determined on a case by case basis, but generally, the statement of average analysis should be for the distilled spirits product. However, we will review the advertisement as a whole to ensure that it does not mislead consumers. For example, depending on the context, it may be necessary to include a separate statement of average analysis for the non-alcoholic mixer, a disclaimer, or some other statement clearly explaining whether the caloric and carbohydrate references include the added non-alcoholic mixer or not.

Last reviewed/updated: 04/07/2004

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III. Contact Information

Q: Whom should I contact with questions about alcohol beverage labels?

A: You can mail questions to:

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
Labeling Team
Washington, DC 20220
You can also call the ALFD Customer Service Team at (202) 453-2250, or toll free at (866) 927-ALFD (2533) between 8:30am - 4:30pm EST Monday through Friday (except Federal Holidays).

You may also e-mail your questions to alfd@ttb.treas.gov

Last reviewed/updated: 09/05/2017

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Q: Whom should I contact with questions about advertising for alcohol beverages?

For more information about advertising alcohol beverages, you may contact the Market Compliance Office at 202-453-2251 (option 4) or by fax at 202-453-2873, or by email at Market.Compliance@ttb.gov.  You can mail questions to:

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
Assistant Director, Trade Investigations Division
Market Compliance Office
1310 G Street, NW, Box 12
Washington, DC 20005

Last reviewed/updated: 09/05/2017

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Page last reviewed/updated: 12/05/2019