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By Casey Wooten
July 12 — Beer drinkers will get to know a little more about what's in their suds as several major brewers start disclosing nutrition information on packaging and company websites.
The Beer Institute said July 12 that it would roll out a voluntary disclosure initiative, with major brewers such as Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, HeinekenUSA and others signing on. Participating companies make up about 81 percent of the all beer sold in the U.S., the Beer Institute said.
Consumers can expect to see the new labels in stores immediately, with participating companies expanding the nutrition labels across all product lines by 2020, the group said.
The decision is part of a broader trend in the food and beverage industry toward disclosure, as consumers push for more information about products. Legislation that would create a mandatory, nationwide labeling system for foods made with genetically modified ingredients passed the Senate July 7, and a House vote is expected soon (See related story in this issue).
The plan may help restaurants comply with a Food and Drug Administration rule requiring they post nutrition information on menus. That rule is set to go into effect in May 2017, though provisions in House and Senate agriculture funding bills could push back that date (See previous story, 05/20/16).
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group that has called for increased nutrition information disclosure in the food and beverage industries, praised the big brewers' move and called for wine and liquor makers to follow suit.
“Alcohol can be a major source of calories for many Americans, and the absence of calorie labeling on cans and bottles has helped obscure that,” CSPI President Michael F. Jacobson said in a statement.
Some brewers and distillers already decided to disclose nutrition information. In 2015, Diageo, the U.K.-based maker of Guinness, Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker, said that it would provide nutrition information though on-pack labels or its website DRINKiQ.com.
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Text of the Beer Institute press release is available at http://www.beerinstitute.org/news-media/press-releases/voluntary-disclosure-announcement.
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