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Groups call for liquor labeling

WASHINGTON An unlikely alliance of advocacy groups called on the federal government Tuesday to require nutrition labels on all packaged alcoholic beverages, including bottled beers, wines and spirits sold in restaurants.

The labels would display alcohol content, the amount of alcohol per serving, the size of a standard drink, and basic dietary information like calories and carbohydrates.

The mandate was proposed here at a press conference co-hosted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Consumer Federation of America, Dr. C. Everett Koop's Shape Up America, and the National Consumers League. Later, an association of liquor distillers, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, issued a statement commending the alliance for proposing the labeling requirement. The distillers group, also known as DISCUS, expressed its support in particular for the proposal's serving-size recommendations.

"We agree with public health organizations and consumers groups that alcohol per serving and standard drink information should be on any serving facts panel -- not just the amount of calories, fat, carbohydrate and protein," said DISCUS president Peter H. Cressy.

The U.S. Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau previously had proposed mandating nutrition facts on container labels. But the bureau did not require that the information include alcohol content.

"Knowing how much alcohol is in a serving of beer, wine or spirits and how that alcohol content relates to a standard drink helps consumers make responsible drinking decisions," Cressy said.

The advocacy groups that convened Tuesday's press conference urged the bureau to require that labels standardize serving sizes at 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits, 12 ounces of beer and 5 ounces of wine. In addition, the panel should also state that a standard drink contains 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol.

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