ATF - The Alcohol and Tobacco Newsletter: Office of Alcohol and Tobacco
February 2001
Office of Alcohol and Tobacco
Page 2

(Continuation from page 1)

In addition, after further research, ALFD has determined that the term "lively", which was previously prohibited from appearing on the label of still wines, is now permitted.

ALFD is happy to answer any questions or respond to any comments. Please do not hesitate to contact our Customer Service Team at 1-866-927-2533 or contact us via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Tequila Issues
By Susan Stewart (202) 927-8140

A shortage of agave cactus, which is used to produce tequila, has had a significant impact on the availability and prices of tequila. The Alcohol Labeling & Formulation Division (ALFD) has recently noticed changes in the labels and formulation of tequilas and tequila specialty products which are a direct result of this shortage. Many products/brands that used to be straight tequila have recently switched to tequila specialty products. ALFD is monitoring closely all label applications for tequila and tequila specialty products, both Mexican and domestically bottled or produced. Our major concerns are:

Misleading as to origin. Labels for tequila imported in bulk and bottled in the U.S. can and should accurately reflect that it is a product of Mexico by the country of origin statement or any graphics or wording that are associated with Mexico, such as the colors of the Mexican flag, Aztec calendar, or a map of Mexico. However, if you use imported bulk tequila to produce a specialty product, it is now a


product of the US and the label should not contain any graphics, depictions, wording, etc. that could mislead consumers to think it is a product of Mexico.

Misleading as to class and type. Our concern is regarding products/brands that used to be straight tequila imported in bulk from Mexico and bottled in the U.S. that are now sold as specialty products, and the only change to the label is the addition of the required statement of composition. We are concerned that consumers may be mislead that this product is still straight tequila. Terms that are associated with tequila, such as "gold," "reposado" or "NOM" should not appear on the labels of tequila specialty products in ways that are likely to mislead consumers.

Imitation tequila. Products that contain no tequila but are clearly being produced, labeled and marketed as a substitute for tequila must be labeled as "imitation tequila" in accordance with 27 CFR 5.22(j).

Tequila liqueur. The Federal Alcohol Administration Act does not provide for "tequila liqueur," so this is not an acceptable class and type designation.

If you have any questions or concerns about these issues, please contact the ALFD Customer Service Team at our toll free number, 1-866-927-2533, or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

New Assistant Chief of ALFD
By Tracy McNeil (202) 927-8140

Thomas B. Busey, who was recently selected as the Assistant to the Chief, Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division (ALFD), brings a direct, hands-on management style and thirty years of ATF experience to the organization. In spite of his good-humored assertion that "old dogs don't change," Tom says that the fast-paced operations of ALFD are invigorating and, "makes me feel young again!"

Tom came to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in 1971, as an inspector in Baltimore. Since then, he has served consecutively as Chief of the Import/Export Branch, Wine and Beer Branch, Product Compliance Branch, and the National Firearms Act Branch. Tom has also been the Area Supervisor in Kentucky.

Career highlights for Tom include serving on the Vice President's Task Force on Drugs and Guns from 1980 to 1981, and serving as Regional Supervisor of the Los Angeles Security Taskforce for the 1984 Olympics.

Born in Massachusetts, Tom has been a long-time resident of the Washington, DC metropolitan area. A graduate of Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland, he served in the United States Army from 1969 to 1971.

For recreation, Tom plays golf and spends time with his youngest son, Jake; who is five years old. His oldest son, Matthew Busey, is an ATF Inspector in West Palm Beach Florida.

Questions or suggestions relating to the Alcohol & Tobacco Newsletter should be directed to the Editor by fax at (202) 927-5611 or by mail at the following address: Bureau of ATF, 650 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Room 8110, Attention: Donna Smith, Editor, Alcohol & Tobacco Newsletter, Washington, DC 20226.