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This is related to this question, but applied within European Union.

According to this source, EU does not impose nutritional facts or ingredient list display for alcoholic beverage:

Alcoholic beverages greater than 1.2%ABV are exempt from ingredient list and nutrition declaration requirements (Art. 16, Res. 2015/2543RSP)

This is rather strange since EU is rather strict about nutrition labeling:

The new regulation makes nutrition labelling mandatory, and instructs food manufacturers to provide information on the energy value and 6 nutrients; fat, saturates, carbohydrate, sugars, protein and salt (..)

I am wondering what makes alcohol beverages so special that they are not treated as "normal" beverage (food) which must provide nutritional facts.

Question: Why are alcohol beverages generally excepted from displaying nutritional facts/ingredient list within EU?

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  • I think exempt is a better word. – paparazzo Jul 3 '18 at 14:45
  • Perhaps because alcoholic beverages generally aren't considered to be foods? – jamesqf Jul 3 '18 at 16:37
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    @jamesqf but they are considered beverages, and many "food" regulations include drinks. – barbecue Jul 3 '18 at 16:44
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    As indicated by James K answer, there is opposition to adding nutrition labels to alcohol by the producers, most probably lobbying too. I mean, if you could see that a couple of beers equal the calories of a full dinner, you might be nudged towards consuming less. – Gnudiff Jul 4 '18 at 12:35
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Historically, alcohol has been treated differently to other food products, and subject to different regulations. This dates back at least to the Bavarian beer laws of the 16th century.

Regulations grew up around controlling the alcohol. For example, English Beer had to declare the o.g. to indicate the alcohol content.

In the main EU regulation, it is just noted:

Taking into account the specific nature of alcoholic beverages, it is appropriate to invite the Commission to analyse further the information requirements for those products. Therefore, the Commission should, taking into account the need to ensure coherence with other relevant Union policies, produce a report within 3 years of the entry into force of this Regulation concerning the application of the requirements to provide information on ingredients and nutrition information to alcoholic beverages. source

That report notes that there is increasing support for nutrition information on alcohol, despite continuing opposition from producers. And conclude that it will "invite the industry to respond to consumer expectations" and if the commission "considers the self-regulatory approach proposed by the industry as unsatisfactory, it would then launch an impact assessment to review further available options".

In summary, historically alcohol has been seen as special, and subject to different rules. Ingredient lists have been seen as unnecessary, as the name implies the ingredients. More recently there are moves to require more detailed nutrition information, but the consultation process is ongoing.

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