Seriously exciting! TTB announces new rulemaking proposal to update, simplify, and clarify the labeling and advertising regulations for wine, distilled spirits, and malt beverages

You can read what’s officially dubbed Notice No. 176 here (it’s 132 single-spaced pages at 9-point font, so it’s going to take a while). If you’d rather not, don’t worry, we’ll be reading it for you over the next few days (weeks? – seriously, in that three-column layout it’s as dense as six New Yorkers) and posting notes/comments/thoughts on the proposed changes and … lack of changes (looking at YOU first amendment violations otherwise known as bans on “disparagement” of competitors products, and “obscene” and “indecent” ads/labels).

It will be fun. It’s not often that an agency undertakes a comprehensive adjustment. The changes that take place will likely be in place for decades, so it’s beneficial to review and understand them before they get adopted and go into effect.

So stay tuned as we keep you updated.

One interesting point to start – like any good notice, this one lays out the history for the TTB’s rulemaking authority and notes in discussing that history, a unique statement from the annals of congress about the purpose of the TTB’s labeling provisions…

“The legislative history of the FAA Act provides some insight concerning the general purpose of the FAA Act’s labeling provisions, which authorize TTB to regulate the labeling of alcohol beverage products:

*  * * the provisions of this bill show that the purpose was to carry that regulation into certain particular fields in which control of interstate commerce in liquors was paramount and necessary. The purpose was to provide such regulations, not laid down in statute, so as to be inflexible, but laid down under the guidance of Congress, under general principles, by a body which could change them as changes were found necessary. Those regulations were intended to insure that the purchaser should get what he thought he was getting, that representations both in labels and in advertising should be honest and straightforward and truthful. They should not be confined, as the pure-food regulations have been confined, to prohibitions of falsity, but they should also provide for the information of the consumer, that he should be told what was in the bottle, and all the important factors which were of interest to him about what was in the bottle. (See Hearings on H.R. 8539 before the Committee on Ways and Means, House of Representatives, 74th Cong., 1st Sess. 10 (1935).

For those of you wondering what the impetus for this broad change is, it’s part of the TTB’s ongoing “multi-year effort to Facilitate Commerce through a Modern Labeling Program Focused on Service and Market Compliance” Which is one of the five goals outlined in their newly adopted Strategic Plan:

  • GOAL 1: Facilitate Commerce through the Timely Issuance of Permits to Qualified Applicants
  • GOAL 2: Facilitate Commerce through a Modern Labeling Program Focused on Service and Market Compliance
  • GOAL 3: Improve Tax Compliance through Increased Voluntary Compliance and Enhanced Enforcement
  • GOAL 4: Address Cross-Border Tax Risk through Data Driven Enforcement
  • GOAL 5: Equip the Workforce for Professional Growth and Development by Revitalizing TTB Training

Ashley Brandt

Hi there! I’m happy you’re here. My name is Ashley Brandt and I’m an attorney in Chicago representing clients in the Food and Beverage, Advertising, Media, and Real Estate industries. A while back I kept getting calls and questions from industry professionals and attorneys looking for advice and information on a fun and unique area of law that I’m lucky enough to practice in. These calls represented a serious lack of, and need for, some answers, news, and information on the legal aspects of marketing and media. I've got this deep seeded belief that information should be readily available and that the greatest benefit from the information age is open access to knowledge... so ... this blog seemed like the best way to accomplish that. I enjoy being an attorney and it’s given me some amazing opportunities, wonderful experiences, and an appreciation and love for this work. I live in Chicago and work at an exceptional law firm, Goldstein & McClintock, with some truly brilliant people. Feel free to contact me at any time with any issues, comments, concerns… frankly, after reading this far, I hope you take the time to at least let me know what you think about the blog and how I can make it a better resource.

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