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Wine Advisor Express:
Alcohol foes push for change in warning label

The health warning label that U.S. law requires on all alcoholic beverages - including fine wines - would become larger, brighter and more prominent under a regulatory proposal placed on the agenda this week by lawmakers and public-interest groups with a history of opposition to alcohol.

The wording would be the same as at present: "GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. (2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems."

The new warning label would have to be in larger type, would add an attention-getting image (a red exclamation point in a triangle), and would be prominently placed on the front of all alcoholic-beverage containers. At present, the warnings are usually placed on the back of the bottle in small print.

The proposed change was submitted by four members of Congress and 121 purported "health and consumer groups" including the Washington-based Center for Science in the Public Interest. Curiously, these organizations have opposed efforts to place positive language about the health benefits of wine on labels as a counterbalance to the federal warning.

I have placed the complete text of the U.S. Federal Register announcement of this proposal online at

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which administers warning-label enforcement, is seeking comments on the proposal, which must be received before Aug. 20, 2001, and may be sent by E-mail to, by fax to (202) 927-8602 or by postal mail to Chief, Regulations Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, P.O. Box 50221, Washington, DC 20091-0221.

If you are a wine-loving U.S. citizen, I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the proposal and comment requirements and make your opinion known. If you're a wine lover from anywhere else in the world, we welcome your sympathy.

Express Notes:

This is Wine Advisor Express, the new, quick daily edition of The 30 Second Wine Advisor, distributed Tuesdays through Fridays. To change your E-mail address, switch from daily to the weekly (Mondays only) distribution, or for any other administrative matters, E-mail Please be sure to include the exact E-mail address that you used when you subscribed, so we can find your record.

Thursday, May 24, 2001
Copyright 2001 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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