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Prohibition Agent Eliot Ness knows all there is to know about TTB and the regulated industries. Take a look below to see his answers to popular questions.


“Do I Need Formula Approval for My Product?”

You may ask yourself “Hey. Why does TTB need to approve my alcohol beverage product formula before I can apply for label approval?”

Good question!

Broadly speaking, by evaluating and approving your formula, we can verify that the ingredients meet the FDA’s requirements to be considered safe for use in food, assign it the correct tax classification, and ensure that your proposed label will identify the product in an adequate and non-misleading way.

Still, determining which malt beverage, wine, and distilled spirit products require formula approval for a COLA can be confusing, whether you are a prospective industry member, a newcomer to the business, or a veteran of the industry. Fortunately, TTB has created a Formula Approval Tool. This tool that will make that determination for you in just seconds!

TTB also maintains a list of the pre-COLA product evaluations required for specific products or product categories. The list is divided into three commodity-specific charts:

Distilled Spirits
Malt beverages

The commodity-based charts reflect the current pre-COLA evaluation requirements for the listed products. Please be advised that, because the type of pre-COLA product evaluation required for a particular type of product may change, it is important to visit TTB.Gov for the most current information. In addition, the charts are provided as general guidance. Particular circumstances may dictate the need for a pre-COLA product evaluation for a specific product even though no such requirement is listed in the charts.

For further information, visit the Formulation page.


Visit the Eliot Knows Archives to see other popular questions and answers.

Page last reviewed/updated: 10/20/2011