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Beer Law & Legis: TTB and USDA Work Together to Review “Organic” in Labels and Advertising

Portland's Roots Brewing is one of many brewers who slap "Organic" on the label

***This post was originally posted on BreweryLaw.com, the nation’s first, and maybe the only, blog devoted to beer law! The blog is published by Reiser Legal, LLC, a Seattle, Washington law office. Reiser Legal’s Douglas Reiser is our regular legal columnist.***

The Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a new Memorandum of Understanding pertaining to the use of the term “Organic” on alcoholic beverage labels. Of course, this news is of utter importance to brewers, especially those in the NW who have focused on brewing organically.

We learned about this Memorandum on Davis Wright & Tremaine’s Hospitality Law Blog by attorney Kelly Luzania. According to Luzania, the TTB will continue to review all labels and advertising for alcoholic beverages, subject to a caveat. Any labels or advertising making claims that the product is “100% organic”, “organic” or “made with organic (ingredients)” must be reviewed with regard to USDA National Organic Program regulations.
From Kelly’s article:

COLAs for wine, beer and spirit labels that contain “organic” claims will now be approved by the TTB as “approved subject to compliance with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and the National Organic Program regulations[.]” If they do not comply with USDA organic laws, the labels will be rejected and the TTB will let applicants know what changes need to be made to make the label compliant. An applicant may only appeal this rejection with the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

The Memorandum provides an interesting look at two of the alcoholic beverage industry’s regulatory bodies working together to reduce confusion and maintain consistency in COLA reviews.

A copy of the Memorandum is available on the TTB website and can be accessed by clicking here.

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