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TTB NEWSLETTER | Weekly News

October 13, 2017


IN THIS ISSUE

Greetings! This week's top news includes the reopening of the comment periods for three wine-related rulemaking documents, a new industry circular on alcohol beverage recalls, and good news about recent improvements we've made in the permit processing area.

COMMENT PERIODS REOPENED ON THREE TTB RULEMAKING DOCUMENTS

We published notices in the Federal Register on October 11, 2017, to reopen the comment periods on the following three notices of proposed rulemaking:

  • Notice No. 160, Proposed Revisions to Wine Labeling and Recordkeeping Requirements. In this notice of proposed rulemaking, originally published in the Federal Register on June 22, 2016, we are proposing to amend our labeling and recordkeeping regulations in 27 CFR part 24 to provide that any standard grape wine containing 7% or more alcohol by volume that is covered by a certificate of exemption from label approval may not be labeled with a varietal (grape type) designation, a type designation of varietal significance, a vintage date, or an appellation of origin unless the wine is labeled in compliance with the standards set forth in the appropriate sections of 27 CFR part 4 for that label information. In addition, we are soliciting comments on alternative proposals put forth by commenters during previous comment periods for Notice No. 160.

    To view all documents and comments related to this proposal, go to Docket No. TTB–2016–0005 on the Regulations.gov website. The comment period for this notice has been reopened; to submit a new or additional comment electronically, use the Regulations.gov comment form for Notice No. 160B. To submit a comment by postal mail or hand delivery, see the instructions in Notice No. 160B. Comments are now are due by January 9, 2018.

  • Notice No. 164, Wine Treating Materials and Related Regulations. In this notice of proposed rulemaking, originally published in the Federal Register on November 22, 2016, we are proposing to amend our regulations regarding wine production in 27 CFR part 24, particularly regulations regarding permissible materials and treatments that may be applied to wine and juice from which wine is made. Wine treating materials are regulated to ensure that the cellar treatment of natural wine is consistent with good commercial practice. We are issuing these proposed amendments in response to requests from wine industry members for greater flexibility in wine production.

    To view all documents and comments related to this proposal, go to Docket No. TTB–2016–0010 on the Regulations.gov website. The comment period for this notice has been reopened; to submit a new or additional comment electronically, use the Regulations.gov comment form for Notice No. 164. To submit a comment by postal mail or hand delivery, see the instructions in Notice No. 164. Comments on this proposal are now due by January 9, 2018.

  • Notice No. 165, Proposed Addition of New Grape Variety Names for American Wines. In this notice of proposed rulemaking, originally published in the Federal Register on November 17, 2016, in response to industry requests, we are proposing to amend our wine labeling regulations in 27 CFR part 4 by adding a number of new names to the list of grape variety names approved for use in designating American wines. We also are proposing to remove one existing entry and replace it with a slightly different name, and to correct the spelling of another existing entry. We regulate grape variety names to protect consumers from deceptive labeling. The proposed amendments will allow wine bottlers greater flexibility and provide consumers with more information while still protecting them from deceptive labels.

    To view all documents and comments related to this proposal, go to Docket No. TTB–2016–0011 on the Regulations.gov website. The comment period for this notice has been reopened; to submit a new or additional comment electronically, use the Regulations.gov comment form for Notice No. 165. To submit a comment by postal mail or hand delivery, see the instructions Notice No. 165. Comments on Notice No. 165 are now due on or before December 11, 2017.

TTB PUBLISHES INDUSTRY CIRCULAR ON VOLUNTARY ALCOHOL BEVERAGE RECALLS

The purpose of this circular is to provide the alcohol beverage industry with guidance and an explanation of our policy on the voluntary recall of certain mislabeled or adulterated alcohol beverages from the marketplace.

A recall is a voluntary action taken by an industry member who removes from the marketplace an alcohol beverage that we consider to be in violation of our regulations or which, after consultation with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), we consider to be mislabeled because it is in violation of FDA administered laws or regulations regarding permitted substances and/or tolerances of ingredients in alcohol beverages.

This circular updates and supersedes Industry Circular 2010-6, dated September 10, 2010.

Read TTB Industry Circular 2017 - 4

SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENTS MADE IN ALCOHOL PERMIT APPLICATION SERVICES

In August 2017, we issued a record number of original alcohol applications (983), while reducing the average processing time to 61 days. This is our best monthly performance since formal tracking of this metric began in January 2014. We attribute these improvements to a number of internal process improvements.

Since October 2016, we have issued more than 7,300 original alcohol applications with an average processing time of 97 days. Last year we processed 6,208 original applications with an average processing time of 124 days. In addition, we have reduced the alcohol application backlog by 44% overall.

Commodity-specific reductions in the applications backlog are as follows:

  • Breweries … reduced by 68%.
  • Distilled spirits plants … reduced by 47%.
  • Wineries … reduced by 42%.
  • Wholesalers … reduced by 24%.
  • Importers … reduced by 11%.

See our Days to Process Permits Online Original Applications page for the last 3 months of processing statistics for all commodities.

REVISED RULING - FRESHNESS DATING AND ALLOWABLE RETURNS OF MALT BEVERAGE PRODUCTS UNDER THE FAA ACT

NOTE: This item appeared in last week's Newsletter under an incorrect headline.

In 2012, we issued TTB Ruling 2012-4, which clarified the circumstances under which retailers may return to wholesalers, and under which wholesalers may receive, malt beverage products that have been deemed unsuitable for sale because of freshness concerns without violating the consignment sales provision of the FAA Act. Subsequently, we have received questions from industry members about whether the holding in TTB Ruling 2012-4 also applies to transactions between a wholesaler and a brewer.

We recently published TTB Ruling 2017-2 which modifies and supersedes TTB Ruling 2012-4 and clarifies the circumstances under which wholesalers or retailers (trade buyers) may return to industry members, and under which industry members may receive malt beverage products that have been deemed unsuitable for sale because of freshness concerns without violating the consignment sales provision of the FAA Act and the TTB regulations.

Read TTB Ruling 2017-2 - Revised - Freshness Dating and Allowable Returns of Malt Beverage Products under the FAA Act

 

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