It’s been making the rounds over the past week that the FDA will require beer nutritional info on menus. I feel like the information I’ve read has been vague and full of hyperbole, I mean
“Government health nannies are thirsty for a new target, and this time it’s craft beer.”
That sounds like something from some random blogger and not a writer for the New York Post. You’ve also got the headline Craft beers grabbed by Obamacare’s long reach from the Washington Examiner. While it’s true, this change by the FDA is part of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) it wasn’t set out specifically targeting craft beer, or beer at all.
I set out to research and read the rules myself. The final verbiage is available here. You can also read the comments and replies about the proposal as well as the FDA’s guidance for the industry. The comments and replies were more interesting and revealing because this was not going to apply to alcohol until the comments came in. Let’s skip the claims made to garner clicks and take a look at what the rule says.
First things first, who does this ruling affect?
How much will beer nutritional info cost breweries?
Another big complaint mentioned everywhere is the cost of testing. The figures I’ve read indicated a range from $500 up to $1,000 per beer. Given everything I’ve already mentioned, there are few local beers affected by this. If MadTree is intent on keeping PsycHOPathy on tap at Buffalo Wild Wings, then they would have to pay it, but look at the regulations first.
If the specific type of wine, beer or distilled spirit offered for sale in your establishment matches the description of the types of beverages that were used to determine the caloric or other nutrient content in the USDA database, then the nutrition information from the USDA database can be used.
What does it really matter?
- No one cares what’s on the nutritional label and if they do it’s likely backfiring from the lawmaker’s intent. I learned this recently thanks to Freakonomics podcast The Cheeseburger Diet. They talked to a researcher who surveyed people before and after nutritional information signage went into effect. The research showed that people either didn’t change their habits, consumed more calories to get a better value (more calories per dollar), or ate less at one meal only to overeat at another meal. On an unrelated note about that podcast, I now need to go to Louisville and try some cheeseburgers.
- Most beer is in a short-range of calories between 150 and 300 calories. IPAs are around 200 calories. You’re going to order an IPA because you want an IPA, not because it’s 50 calories less than a stout. You’re not going to order a light lager just because it’s under 100 calories instead of a 200 calorie IPA.
- Worst case scenario some craft breweries lose tap handles at some chains. Oh no, woe is me, I can’t order Rivertown Roebling on Nitro at T.G.I.Fridays anymore; I’ll have to get it at Firehouse Grill, Lucky Dog, Main Street Social, or other local restaurants that I’d rather eat at instead. I mean, part of the whole craft beer “thing” is being local, right? So just start eating local when you drink local. A further point here is that I checked with two of my friends who are distributor reps. These types of accounts make up a small percentage of accounts and even smaller percentage of sales.
While this went into effect this month, it will not get enforced until next December. This delay is so companies can put it in place and get clarification over the next year.
What are your thoughts on this? Are you interested to see the beer nutritional info for everything? Will it change your drinking habits?