I'm a calorie-counter, simply because it works for me. Because I have a naturally efficient metabolism (that means I gain weight easily if I'm not careful about what I consume), I keep a very close eye on how much I eat (and drink) most days. And because I do that, I already kind of know how many calories are in most drinks (80-90 for red wine; 100 for white; 180 for a bottle of beer; 70-100 for a shot of liquor). But some beer and wines vary from the typical, and as more and more specialty alcohols — and spirits — come onto the market every year, the more variations in calorie counts there are. For example, I'm a huge fan of alcoholic ciders and meads, and I can tell from the sugar levels that some have to be more caloric than others — but I have no idea because there's no label information. That's about to change, with new rules about what can be included on the familiar serving labels.
Currently, the labelling is voluntary. According to the New York Daily News, "Unlike traditional food and beverage labels, strictly regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, alcohol labeling jurisdiction falls in a gray area. On May 28, the Treasury Department approved the inclusion of serving size, servings per container, calories, carbohydrates, protein and fat per serving on a traditional "Serving Facts" label, an expansion from 2004's authorized "statement of average analysis." The Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau further validated this decision, mandating truthful labeling that avoids misleading consumers."
I'm always a fan of more information about what we put in our bodies, whether it's labeling of GMOs in foods and drinks, or calories in restaurant meals and now, cocktails, beer and wine. The more information we as consumers have, the better. I can't possibly see what the downside of labelling would be — except that in the short term it costs the parent companies money to change their labels, but that's a cost of doing business in a world where most of us care what we put in our bodies.
What do you think? Would you like to see more information on alcohol labels?
Related on MNN: