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US: Authorities target RTDs for misleading consumers

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The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has targeted the fast-growing RTD market in an effort to clear up consumer confusion over the ingredients of such drinks. In a ruling yesterday the ATF said that it will forbid makers of certain flavoured malt beverages from labeling and advertising them as containing vodka, rum or other liquor.
 
In the US, the RTD sector is dominated by malt based drinks. However brewers and importers have begun to associate flavoured malt beverages with well-known brands of distilled spirits. This association is made several ways, including the use of a distilled spirits brand name as the brand name of the RTD and by the use of specific distilled spirits terms in describing flavourings added to flavored malt beverages.

Although the direct addition of distilled spirits is not permitted in the production of any malt beverage, the ATF has permitted the addition of flavouring materials that are alcohol based

However the ATF said: "(The)ATF believes the association drawn between distilled spirits and malt beverages through the use of well-known distilled spirits brand names and terms on labels of flavored malt beverages causes confusion for consumers, the media, and State regulatory and taxing organizations. ATF believes this practice is confusing and leads consumers to believe distilled spirits are present in these flavored malt beverages.

"One of the practices ATF finds to be particularly misleading is the use of a distilled spirits brand name or the use of a distilled spirits class and type term to describe a flavour element that is part of a statement of composition on malt beverage labels."

Currently, a label might read: "Flavoured malt beverage made with natural flavors containing vodka." Under the change, the reference to vodka, rum, tequila or any other distilled spirit would have to be removed.

However, ATF will continue to allow labels and advertising to have references to a distilled spirits brand name, such as Bacardi or Smirnoff.


Companies: Bacardi Ltd

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