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U.S. Wine Labels May Soon List Allergens

Wineries can now voluntarily declare the use of common substances used in production; government considers mandatory labeling

Lynn Alley
Posted: July 27, 2006

Consumers with food allergies may soon be able to verify whether certain wines are safe for them to drink. In turn, wineries may face more red tape in meeting already complicated labeling requirements.

The federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) announced a proposal on July 26 that would require wineries to declare on their labels whether any major allergens--such as milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts and soybeans (as well as any ingredients derived from these foods)--were used in the production of the wines. The bureau also released interim regulations for any producers who want to voluntarily begin listing allergens on their labels.

Products such as egg whites, casein (milk protein) and isinglass (fish bladder) are commonly used to fine or clarify wines. In addition, some commercially prepared tannins, which may be added to wines, are derived from sources such as chestnuts or oak-tree galls.

The proposal parallels recent amendments to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act that require the declaration of these major allergens on food product labels.

The TTB had announced in 2005 that it was considering mandatory allergen labeling in an effort to supply consumers with more details about the contents of the wines that they buy. The bureau also wanted to bring its current regulations into alignment with those of other countries (such as Australia and New Zealand, which require allergen labeling on all wines produced and sold domestically, as well as on imported wines) and with U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations.

The proposal was formulated in response to the more than 8,000 comments received online by TTB on this and other related matters.

The bureau is currently soliciting responses from consumers and affected industry members on its mandatory label proposal. Written comments must be received on or before Sept. 25, 2006, and may be submitted by e-mail at nprm@ttb.gov, via the online comments form for the proposal at www.ttb.gov/alcohol/rules/index.htm, by fax at (202) 927-8525 or by sending mail to Director, Regulations and Rulings Division, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Attn: Notice No. 62, P.O. Box 14412, Washington, D.C. 20044—4412.

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