ATF Ruling 76-3
The Bureau has been asked to clarify its position on the use of the words "charcoal filtered" appearing on labels to be used on bottles of vodka treated with activated carbon.
The Bureau has found that the labeling of vodka and other products as "charcoal filtered" may, in some instances, because of the method of treatment and filtration employed, cause consumer deception and be in violation of the provisions of 27 CFR 5.42.
The regulations in 27 CFR 5.22 state that vodka is neutral spirits so distilled, or so treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials, as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color. 27 CFR 5.42 provides in part that labels shall not contain any statement that is false or untrue in any particular or that, irrespective or falsity, directly or by ambiguity, omission, or reference, or by the addition of irrelevant, scientific, or technical matter, tends to create a misleading impression.
Recently there has been an increase in the use of "activated carbon" in the treatment of filtration of distilled spirits and in the use of bottle labels bearing the designation "charcoal filtered." "Activated carbon" and "activated charcoal" are treated synonymously in the United States Pharmacopoeia (17th Revision), the Food Chemicals Codex 1972, and the U.S. Dispensatory (27th Edition). Because of questions regarding the use of activated carbon, the Bureau has considered various methods for treating vodka with activated carbon for the purpose of determining what would constitute charcoal filtering for labeling purposes. The Bureau has concluded that the treatment (and subsequent filtration) of vodka with not less than one ounce of activated carbon or activated charcoal per 100 wine gallons of spirits would entitle it to be labeled as "charcoal filtered." See Revenue Ruling 69-496, C.B. 1969-2, 272 (Internal Revenue) for other labeling requirements for vodka.
Held, vodka treated and filtered with not less than one ounce of activated carbon or activated charcoal per 100 wine gallons of spirits may be labeled "charcoal filtered."
27 CFR 5.22 and 5.42.