Alcoholic Beverage Regulations
The FDA shares regulatory authority over alcoholic beverage regulations with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).

While the FDA has primary jurisdiction over low alcohol-content beverages, certain beers, and food additives, the TTB regulates the primary alcoholic beverages: most beers, wine, malt beverages, and distilled spirits.

The TTB regulates the formulas, labels, federal permits, and most importantly the taxes on alcohol. Additionally, liquor sales and retail licensure are regulated by individual states and local governments. Getting an alcoholic beverage to market requires the advice of a person with industry experience.

TTB Basics

If you have a new alcoholic beverage product that you want to bring to market, you first need to determine whether it is regulated by the FDA or TTB. If the product is TTB-regulated, as most alcoholic drinks are, then you need to determine whether the product is standard or if it requires a formula approval.

Whether you need formula approval or not, you or somebody in your supply chain will need to obtain a basic permit and Certificate of Label Approvals (COLA) from the TTB before you can begin marketing. Finally, you will have state, local, and possibly U.S. Customs hurdles to clear.

Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Terms to Familiarize Yourself With
Learning these terms will help you understand alcoholic beverage regulations.

Malt Beverage – A beverage made by the alcoholic fermentation of potable brewing water, malted barley, and hops.

Wine –A beverage containing 7% to 24% alcohol, derived from grapes or other ripe fruit, and made in the general manner of wine.

Distilled Spirits – Spirits of wine, whiskey, rum, brandy, gin, ethyl alcohol, hydrated oxide of ethyl, and other distilled spirits – including all dilutions and mixtures for nonindustrial use.

Basic Permit – The permit required to import, wholesale, produce, blend, or warehouse alcoholic beverages.

COLA – Certificate of Label Approvals; the official TTB-issued certificate of approval, which amounts to a premarket label approval.

Class & Type – “Class” means the broader category of alcoholic beverages, while “type” is more specific. For example, “whiskey” is a class of distilled spirits, while “bourbon whiskey” is a type.

How an Experienced Attorney Can Help with Your Alcoholic Beverage Regulations

We will help you classify your product to determine what your next step will be. If the product is TTB-regulated, then somebody in your supply chain will need a Basic Permit. If you need a formula approval, we will need to submit samples to the TTB.

We will also review your label and help you submit a successful COLA.

The process tends to be slow and getting started early is critical to meeting your timeline for entering the market. Call today for a free consultation.

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