Alcoholic beverage labels, Commission confirms exemptions on ingredient list and nutrition table


The European Commission has finally presented the report on alcoholic beverage labels, confirming the exemptions on ingredient list and nutrition table. The Brussels-based executive is scrupulously following orders from the
of alcohol, but è an own goal. In fact, an alcohol-goal! Let’s see why.

EU Regulation 1169/11
(1) had delegated the Commission to publish, by December 2014, a report on the
With an alcohol content above 1.2 percent. To assess whether it still makes sense today to maintain the historic exemptions reserved for such products. Taking into account the growing interest of consumAtors in knowing the composition of foods. And from the need to know how many calories are contributed by various foods. In line with, among other things, the recent implementation of the mandatory nutrition table on almost all labels.

The report
was published
More than two years late, on March 13, 2017. It is first of all recalled that. è mandatory to indicate the alcohol content, by volume, on beverages where it exceeds 1.2 percent. It is also a duty to report any allergenic ingredients that may be present. And it is possible to mention the energy value, on an optional basis. At the international level among others, the
Codex Alimentarius
provides no exemptions whatsoever in favor of spirits.

A large majority of consumers European respondents, among others, expressed a desire to know both the nutritional properties and ingredients of beverages that contain alcohol. In line with the prescribed information on the labels of the generality of foods. Of a different opinion, as partly understandable, are the manufacturers and distributors. In addition to the public merchants.

Some trade associations have since revised their positions. European brewers are in favor of transparent information. (3) Wine and spirits producers expressed initial openness on the nutritional front. (4) While consumers and NGOs dedicated to health protection insist on a full disclosure. As indeed invoked by WHO. (5)

The European Parliament in turn had already asked the Brussels executive to introduce a proposal for mandatory energy value and ingredient labeling on products under consideration by the end of 2016. (6) The albeit similar view of the Council of Member States is more moderate. (7) The latter had also noted the inconsistency of the labels of the so-called
compared to
soft drinks

Therefore, the Commission concludes. his pap – for the sake of the premises and mandates he received – without any proposal. Limited to requiring trade associations to submit a report within one year on self-regulatory initiatives taken. An alcohol-goal, expressing the myopic view of those who still find it convenient to conceal the composition of their products. Not surprisingly meanwhile, sales in Italy of organic wines. have increased by 25.7 percent in the past year.

Dario Dongo


  1. FIR,
    Food Information Regulation
    , Article 16.4


  3. As already expressed also in Italy by Assobirra, having nothing to hide about malts and hops

  4. While the giants Diageo and Pernod Ricard have already made specific commitments, ed.

  5. World Health Organization’s European Action Plan to reduce the harmful use of alcohol 2012

  6. European Parliament resolution of April 29, 2015 on Alcohol Strategy.


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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.