Winery Circumvents Labeling Intent with Questionable "Health Claims." (Beringer Winery)

Article excerpt

In a surprise move, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) has decided to allow Beringer Winery to make controversial health claims about its wine products.

On October 22, Beringer Winery announced that BATF had given the company approval to attach a "neckhanger" which quoted statements from CBS-TV's "60 Minutes." The so-called "balanced statement" describes levels of drinking that exceed the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. More importantly, the health claim overpowers and essentially guts the warning label on alcoholic beverage containers.

The Coalition on Advertising and Family Education has urged individuals and field groups to contact HHS Secretary Lewis W. Sullivan, MD and Nicholas Brady, Secretary of the Treasury, to ask these officials to rescind approval of the neckhanger and all future health claims that do not comply with federal policy governing food products now being implemented by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA).

Although the NLEA does not cover alcoholic beverages, its intent is clear. According to the Act, health claims which characterize the relationship of one or more of the required nutrients to disease may only be allowed if such claims are authorized by the Secretary of Health and Human Services as scientifically valid, and if the other required nutrients are present in amounts which do not increase the risk of health-related conditions or disease. …