Will Four Loko's FTC Settlement lead to more disclosures of Alcohol Content?

The maker of the controversial Four Loko flavored malt beverages has agreed to label its products with disclosures stating how much alcohol they contain compared to "regular" beer.

Craft beer manufacturers and producers in other categories should watch related regulatory efforts with some caution. TTB has previously proposed that all alcoholic beverages contain a mandatory "Serving Facts" panel, though due in part to the efforts of various industry organizations, including those representing craft brewers, those proposals have been shelved -- for now, at least. The Four Loko case demonstrates that the FTC (which works closely with TTB in these issues) believes that relative alcohol disclosures are meaningful.

Among craft brewers' concerns may be whether their often popular "high hops, high alcohol" ales (some approaching or exceeding 10% ABV) might one day have to caution that they contain twice the alcohol of "regular" beers, or whether they might be required to disclose that the 22-oz. bottles so common to the craft beer category contain more than one serving. Small producers have also complained that requiring them to analyze content, print labels, and get label approval based on Serving Facts of each of their small lots of production will add costs, discourage product development, and favor large manufacturers.

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