The health warning statement is the following statement, required to appear on wine labels by the Alcoholic Beverage Labeling Act (ABLA) of 1988:
GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) According to the Surgeon General, women
should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of
birth defects. (2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to
drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems.
The health warning statement must appear on all alcohol beverages for sale or distribution in the United States containing not less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume.
This requirement applies regardless of whether the bottled wine will be sold in interstate or intrastate commerce, and also applies to beverages that are produced, imported, bottled, or labeled for sale, distribution, or shipment to members or units of the Armed Forces of the United States, including those located outside the United States.
This is an example of the health warning statement on a wine label.
Where should the health warning statement be placed on the product?
The health warning statement may appear on a front label, back label, or side label.
What are the formatting requirements?
The health warning statement must appear separate and apart from all other information.
The words “GOVERNMENT WARNING” must appear in capital letters and in bold type; the remainder of the statement may not appear in bold type. It must appear as a continuous paragraph.
Type size: The type size requirement for the health warning statement is a:
- Minimum of 3 mm for containers larger than 3 liters (101 fl. oz.).
- Minimum of 2 mm for containers larger than 237 ml (8 fl. oz.) and not more than 3 liters (101 fl. oz.).
- Minimum of 1 mm for containers of 237 ml (8 fl. oz.) or less.
It must appear in readily legible print under ordinary conditions and appear on a contrasting background. It may not exceed the maximum number of characters per inch:
Is it acceptable for other label information, for example the words “contains sulfites,” to appear on the same line as the last sentence of the health warning statement?
Other information, such as the sulfite declaration, may appear on the same line as the last sentence of the health warning statement as long as the information appears separate and apart from the health warning statement. See example below.
In this example, the use of spaces at the end of the health warning statement, along with the bold print
of the “contains sulfites” statement, separates the sulfite declaration from the health warning statement.
Can my label include a health warning statement from another country, in addition to the required health warning statement?
The health warning statement required by ABLA must appear on the container in order to comply with U.S. law. TTB finds that warning statements required by other countries about the health effects of alcohol consumption may be confusing or misleading to the extent that they communicate different information from the warning statement required in the United States. Therefore, it is TTB’s policy not to approve such statements on alcohol beverage labels.
Page last reviewed: September 26, 2019
Page last updated: March 1, 2021
Maintained by: Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division