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Industry Circulars 18-2


March 26, 2018
Number: 2018 - 2

To: Proprietors of Bonded Wineries, Bonded Wine Cellars, Taxpaid Wine Bottling Houses, Beverage Distilled Spirits Plants, Breweries, Importers, and Others Concerned.

Expansion of Allowable Changes to Approved Alcohol Beverage Labels

1.  Purpose.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is further expanding the list of changes that can be made to approved labels without requiring those labels to be resubmitted to TTB for review. Currently, industry members may make certain changes to approved alcohol beverage labels without submitting a new TTB Form 5100.31, Application for and Certification/Exemption of Label/Bottle Approval, under the guidelines outlined in Section V on the form, "Allowable Revisions to Approved Labels." We are committed to minimizing administrative burdens on the industry, while carrying out our mission to protect the public.

2. Authority. 

Section 105(e) of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act), 27 U.S.C. 205(e), provides for the application for and issuance of certificates of label approval (COLAs) for wine, distilled spirits, and malt beverages sold, shipped, or otherwise introduced in interstate or foreign commerce and authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to prescribe regulations for the labeling of such products. TTB administers the regulations promulgated under the FAA Act, which are set forth in Title 27, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), parts 4, 5, and 7 (27 CFR parts 4, 5, and 7). The FAA Act requires that these regulations, among other things, prohibit consumer deception and the use of misleading statements on labels, and ensure that labels provide the consumer with adequate information about the identity and quality of the product.  TTB also administers the regulations issued under the Alcoholic Beverage Labeling Act of 1988.  These regulations, which implement the statutory requirement for a health warning statement on containers of alcoholic beverages, are found in 27 CFR part 16. 

3. Labeling. 

Industry members may make certain changes to previously approved alcohol beverage labels without applying for a new COLA. There are currently 34 allowable revisions, which may be found on the COLA form. Furthermore, TTB has announced in various rulings and guidance documents that specific changes to labels may be made without resubmitting labels for approval. See, e.g., TTB Industry Circular 2014-1 ("New Argentine Wine Labeling Rules and Certificate of Label Approval Requirements"), TTB Ruling 2013-2 ("Voluntary Nutrient Content Statements in the Labeling and Advertising of Wines, Distilled Spirits, and Malt Beverages"), and TTB Industry Circular 2014-2 ("Expansion of Allowable Revisions to Approved Alcohol Beverage Labels").  The last document added six new types of allowable changes to the 28 that had previously been listed on the COLA form.

4.  Expansions to Allowable Revisions.

Effective on the date of this circular, TTB is adding three additional changes that may be made to a previously approved label without submitting a new application for label approval. TTB plans to add these new provisions (as Items 35-37) to the COLA form when it is next revised.  

In addition, TTB is adding two statements to the allowable instructional statements about how best to consume or serve the product, currently listed as Item 34 of the allowable changes on the COLA form. We are also clarifying, in Item 34, that the instructional statements may be added, deleted, or changed between approved statements.  The new statements are in red font below.  TTB plans to amend Item 34 to add these new changes to the COLA form when it is next revised.   

Any revision(s) you make to your approved label(s) must be in compliance with the applicable regulations in 27 CFR parts 4, 5, 7, and 16, and any other applicable provisions of law or regulation.  The revisions must also comply with the conditions described in the "Comments" section of the chart.

Additional allowable revisions to approved labels:



Distilled Spirits

Malt Beverages


34.  Add, delete, or change between approved instructional statements about how best to consume or serve the product.  [UPDATED]




Only the following statements are approved to be added to a label: 

"Do Not Store In Direct Sunlight"
"Best If Frozen For ___ to ___ Hours"
"Shake Well"
"Pour Over Ice"
"Best When Chilled"
"Best Served Chilled"
"Serve Chilled"
"Serve at Room Temperature"
"Best Before ___"
"Consume By ___"

35.  Add, delete, or change between approved responsibility statements.




Only the following statements are approved to be added to a label: 

"Drink Responsibly"
"Enjoy Responsibly"
"Enjoy in Moderation"
"Sip Responsibly"

36. Add, delete, or change between approved sustainable farming, environmental, and eco-friendly claims.




These statements must not conflict with or qualify any mandatory information and must comply with all applicable laws and regulations.  It is the responsibility of the industry member to have any necessary documentation of authorization to cover the revisions to the approved label(s).

Only the following statements are approved to be added to a label: 

"Sustainable Farming"
"Sustainably Grown"
"Carbon Neutral"
"Environmentally Friendly"
"Salmon Safe"
"Don't Litter"

37.  Add, delete, or change between approved food pairing recommendations.




Only the following food pairing statements are approved to be added to a label: 

"Best paired with [name of food]"
"Best served with [name of food]"

5.  Labels on Different Types of Containers.

Finally, TTB has received questions about Item 3, which allows, among other things, changes in the shape and proportionate size of a label.  TTB wishes to caution industry members about using this allowable revision when changing between different types of containers, for example, when changing from a keg label to a bottle label, or from a bottle label to a bag-in-a-box label.  Labels for different types of containers usually look very different and may contain label information specific to the container type (e.g., instructions for serving from a bag-in-a-box container) or different graphics.  We remind you that you must comply with all applicable conditions for use of allowable revisions in the full list of allowable revisions. Thus, for example, you may not add information or graphics (unless specifically authorized by the list of allowable revisions) without obtaining a new COLA.  These restrictions make it unlikely that you will be able to use a label approved for one type of container for a different type of container without submitting the new label to TTB for approval. 


If you have any questions concerning this circular, please contact the Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division at 1-866-927-2533 or online.


Signed by John Manfreda

John J. Manfreda
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau


Page last reviewed: March 26, 2018
Page last updated: March 26, 2018
Maintained by: Regulations and Rulings Division

Last updated: January 21, 2020