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Calorie Counts and Ingredient Lists Are Coming to Big Beer Labels

A voluntary initiative will provide consumers with more information

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Notoriously vague beer labels are getting an overhaul. The Beer Institute, an industry trade group, has announced voluntary changes to packaging that includes nutrition information and listed ingredients, reports Consumerist.

The Beer Institute is calling its plan the "Voluntary Disclosure Initiative" and says it will result in participating brewers listing calories, carbohydrates, protein, fat, and alcohol by volume on their products. Among the organizations on board with the initiative are Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, HeinekenUSA, Constellation Brands Beer Division, North American Breweries, and Craft Brew Alliance, which combine to make up 81 percent of the United States market. While nutrition information will be included directly on labels, brewers will have the option to make ingredient lists accessible via scannable barcodes.

Currently, beer labels don't offer much information beyond a product's alcohol by volume, and the voluntary reform is drawing praise from government types. "The Beer Institute and the companies that have chosen to participate in the Brewers' Voluntary Disclosure Initiative are providing real leadership in the alcohol beverage industry by voluntarily providing this information," Tommy Thompson, former Secretary of Health and Human Services, said in a prepared statement.

The Beer Institute says consumers should begin to see the changes immediately, and it hopes to have all participating brewers in compliance by the end of 2020.

By announcing the voluntary initiative, the Beer Institute is getting ahead of a label discussion that's on deck for this fall. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is planning to open an online forum that will allow anyone to propose amendments to an array of outdated rules, which could include labeling language.