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The Chicago Tribune reports that some brewers, distillers and vintners are hoping that the federal government will allow them – but not require them – to provide nutritional facts on their product packaging.

The consumers are saying they want more information whether it is on their bottle of chardonnay, their six-pack of beer or their bottle of Scotch," Gary Galanis, a spokesman for Diageo North America, tells the Tribune.

However, this is both a new effort and hardly an unanimous one.

For years, alcohol manufacturers have fought to avoid the same requirements foisted on just about every other food and beverage supplier. But that has changed as the competition has gotten more intense and consumer tastes have evolved.

The Tribune writes, “Since 1999, beer sales have fallen 3.1 percent, while hard liquor sales grew 3 percent in the same period. That costs beermakers hundreds of millions in the more than $50 billion U.S. alcoholic beverage market.

“Distillers see a competitive advantage and now want to share their stats with drinkers in hopes of continuing their momentum.

“It may help liquor sales, especially among some dieters, if consumers knew that a 1.5-ounce shot of Jim Beam bourbon has 100 calories and no carbohydrates. Comparatively, a 12-ounce Budweiser contains 146 calories and 11 grams of carbs.”

But brewers, according to the Tribune, “accuse the hard liquor industry of using labeling to camouflage efforts to impose standard drink sizes on the industry.

“Pete Marino, a spokesman for Milwaukee-based Miller Brewing Co., said there is a difference between a 12-ounce glass of 5 percent beer and a 1.5-ounce shot of 80-proof liquor.

"’A liquid gallon of beers comes out to 10 beers. A liquid gallon of liquor comes out to 895 drinks. Clearly they are not the same,’ he said.”

Consumer groups seem to be in favor of greater labeling and standardization. "Consumers should not have to guess about the alcohol strength, serving size, number of servings per container, calories or ingredients of alcoholic beverages," George Hacker, director of the alcohol policies project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, tells the Tribune.

However, analysts seem to believe that it is unlikely that the federal government will make any regulatory changes anytime soon.
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