Credit: Tim Pearce

Health Canada is working toward enhanced labelling regulations for alcohol


It was a story about nutritional labels for booze over at Slashfood that made me grab a beer (actually I was about to have one anyway, the story just added incentive). In the US there is some discussion about whether or not consumers would benefit from having nutritional labels on alcohol.


The argument in favour of labels is that we consumers deserve to know just what we're pouring into our bodies while the counter-argument says booze is obviously not a source of nutrition, so the labels are an unnecessary hassle for producers.


Which brought me to my beer. I haven't actually spent much time reading beer and wine labels (beyond confirming I¹m buying what I planned to buy), but I was curious what Canadian labelling laws require them to say. It turns out, not much.


Beer nutrition labels

Will we be seeing nutritional labels like this on our booze here in Canada? Don't hold your breath. (Image: Flickr / michaelnugent)


What's in my beer?

Current regulations say that, 'Standardized alcoholic beverages (such as beer, wine, and rum) are exempt from the requirement to show a list of ingredients on the label.' But there is a bit of a shift going on.


Internationally, in 2010, the European Food Safety Authority began requiring that wines fined with milk (casein) and egg products be declared (these ingredients can trigger adverse reactions in some people).


Here in our country, Health Canada is working toward enhanced labeling regulations that indicate whether alcohol contains allergens or gluten sources.


So while we¹re unlikely to ever see a complete nutritional breakdown letting us know exactly what¹s in our favourite Pinot Gris, we will get a heads up as to when booze contains allergens—but not much else.


And according to Keith Watt at Morning Bay Vineyard & Estate Winery on Pender Island, this might not be such a bad thing,


"I'm not really in favour of nutritional labelling on wine because of course we don't drink wine for its nutritional value."