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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jim Crandall

April 8, 2002

FY 02-07

ATF Policy on Labeling and Advertising of Flavored Malt

Washington, DC - The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
(ATF) announces the publication of Industry
Circular Number 2002-4
. This ruling interprets regulations in 27 CFR
Part 7 regarding labeling and advertising of flavored malt beverages,
and reexamines ATF policy relating to these regulations.

Although flavored malt beverages have been produced and marketed in the
United States for many years, recent developments in the industry have
caused confusion for consumers, the media, and State regulatory and taxing
organizations. Specifically, brewers and importers have begun to associate
flavored malt beverages with well-known brands of distilled spirits. That
association is made: by using a distilled spirits brand name as the brand
name of a flavored malt beverage; by using labeling or packaging that
resembles packaging of well-known brands of distilled spirits; and by
the use of distilled spirits terms in describing flavorings added to the
malt beverages. For example, a label might read:

  • "[Distilled Spirits Brand Name] - Flavored malt beverage made
    with natural flavors containing vodka."

ATF finds statements such as this to be misleading. Although ATF will
allow continued references to a distilled spirits brand name, it is prohibiting
any such references that lead the consumer to believe that the product
is made with or contains specific types or classes of distilled spirits.
The direct addition of distilled spirits, in fact, is not permitted in
the production of malt beverages. ATF has permitted the addition of alcohol-based
flavoring materials to malt beverages, but distilled spirits used to manufacture
flavorings lose their class and type identity (such as vodka, tequila,
or rum) when blended with other ingredients to make a flavor extract.
ATF therefore considers it misleading to represent that a malt beverage
contains a particular class of distilled spirit when it contains only
an alcohol-based flavoring.

Click here for the full
text of the ruling
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