Wine is defined in the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act) as, among other things, containing not less than 7 and not more than 24 percent alcohol by volume [27 U.S.C. 211(a)(6)]. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) labeling regulations apply only to wines containing alcohol within the specified range. Dealcoholized wines are prepared by removing alcohol from a wine. Because dealcoholized wine products contain less than 7 percent alcohol by volume, they are not covered by the FAA Act and are subject to the labeling provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
The term "malt beverage" is defined in the FAA Act as a beverage made by alcoholic fermentation of specific materials [27 U.S.C. 211(a)(7)]. Malt beverages are not characterized by specific alcohol content. All malt beverages meeting the definition of the FAA Act are within the purview of the BATF statute, regardless of alcohol content. Regulations pertaining to the labeling of malt beverages are found in Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 7.
The term "dealcoholized" or "alcohol-removed" should appear in the statement of identity, immediately preceding either the term "wine" or the standard of identity [27 CFR 4.21] designation of the type of wine from which it was derived, such as "burgundy." The qualifying words "dealcoholized" or "alcohol-removed" should appear in letters equal in size to "wine" or to the standardized name on the principal display panel of the label. Where a specific designation is used, such as "dealcoholized claret" or "alcohol-removed burgundy," the product must be true to source type as defined by BATF regulations. To ensure that consumers are not misled as to the alcohol content of the product, the statement of identity should be followed by the declaration, "contains less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume." FDA considers use of the terms "dealcoholized" and "alcohol-removed" in the statement of identity of a reduced alcohol wine product to be misleading if the alcohol content exceeds 0.5 percent by volume.
We do not object to the presence of the additional label claim "non-alcoholic" on labels of dealcoholized wines. However, the term "non-alcoholic" should not be used in lieu of the term "dealcoholized" or "alcohol-removed" as the sole qualifier in the statement of identity of the wine product.
FDA does not consider the terms "non-alcoholic" and "alcohol-free" to be synonymous. The term "alcohol-free" may be used only when the product contains no detectable alcohol.
Beverages such as soft drinks, fruit juices, and certain other flavored beverages which are traditionally perceived by consumers to be "non-alcoholic" could actually contain traces of alcohol (less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume) derived from the use of flavoring extracts or from natural fermentation. FDA also considers beverages containing such trace amounts of alcohol to be "non-alcoholic." We, therefore, have no basis for objecting to claims of "non-alcoholic" on labels of dealcoholized wines, even though they are derived from alcoholic beverages. FDA policy and BATF regulations on the labeling of malt beverages (27 CFR 7.26) are consistent on the use of the terms "non-alcoholic" and "alcohol-free."
The labeling of malt beverages that are prepared in accordance with the provisions of 27 CFR Part 7 (including dealcoholized malt beverages) is solely under the jurisdiction of BATF. Inquiries concerning the labeling of malt beverages should be referred to BATF's Product Compliance Branch. If it is unclear whether a product meets the FAA Act definition of malt beverage, contact BATF for guidance. If BATF concludes that a product is not within their jurisdiction, FDA will exercise authority over the label of the beverage. If there are questions concerning the statement of identity of a non-BATF regulated product, contact CFSAN/Office of *Compliance*/Division of Enforcement (HFS-605) for coordination and guidance.
*Material between asterisks is new or revised.*
Revised: 9/11/89, 3/95, 5/05