Gatza: FDA Menu Labeling Requirements Could Impact Craft Sales

brewers association

The Brewers Association has issued the following warning to its members regarding pending federal requirements to disclose the caloric value and other health criteria of beer being sold at on-premise chains: “Be ready or lose sales.”

Although the Food and Drug Administration has yet to issue the organization with “formal guidance” on the requisite labeling procedures slated to take effect later this year, the agency has provided a glimpse of what’s to come in a question and answer session with the BA.

The FDA, according to the BA, has indicated that chain restaurants with 20 or more units and “similar retail food establishments” will be subject to the stricter labeling requirements.

–       “Restaurant menus and menu boards will include calorie listings for each brand of beer.”

–       “FDA will require chain restaurants to have nutrient figures for each beer for total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugar and protein.”

–       “Restaurants may use a combination of methods to develop the information, including the USDA Nutrient Database, manufacturer-supplied data, calculations with defensible ideas behind the calculations, laboratory analysis and recipes.”

–       “[Draft] beer will be included if listed on a menu. Nutrient values for [draft] beer will not be required if the beer is not on a menu.”

–       “Each size pour will require its own listing of all data.”

–       “The values for ‘regular beer’ in the USDA Nutrient Database won’t be considered accurate for craft beer and other methods of ascertaining this information will be required.”

Last November, the FDA told Brewbound that the new regulations would not impact craft brewers, clarifying that retailers — not manufacturers — would be responsible for gathering this information. Nonetheless, Paul Gatza, director of the BA, wrote on the organization’s website that brewers doing business in the restaurant channel should be prepared to adhere to the impending changes.

“While the onus rests with the restaurant chains, it is easy to foresee that companies may drop brands that do not have this information readily available,” he wrote. “If you don’t know your nutrient values and do business in chain restaurants now or plan to in the future, now is the time to start gathering your information. Menu development takes months for many chains, and they are moving on this issue already.”

The new guidelines are slated to take effect December 1 of this year.


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