Who Regulates Alcohol Today

Who Regulates Alcohol Today
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has the primary jurisdiction over alcohol beverage industry in the United States.

The TTB handles the following elements of the alcohol industry:

  • Basic Permits
  • Excise Taxes
  • Label Approvals, Formulations, Lab Analysis
  • Advertising and Social Media
  • Trade Practices
  • American Viticultural Areas (AVA)

Lindsey A. Zahn, Esq. is an alcohol beverage and food attorney at Lehman Beverage Law, PLLC. Ms. Zahn has previously counseled wine, beer, and spirits companies on licensing and compliance, federal and state labeling, customs regulations, supplier agreements, and advertising and promotions. She is an award-winning author on wine law, publishes a leading wine law blog called On Reserve, and has traveled to over a dozen wine regions in the U.S. and Europe.

John D. Messinger, Esq. is an attorney at Lehrman Beverage Law, PLLC. He joined the firm in 2006 as a law clerk, after working as an intern and consultant with the World Bank, Legal Operations and Policy. John focuses on TTB labeling and formulation matters and also state compliance issues.
John has a particular interest in beer and craft beer issues, and he is an avid small-scale brewer.

In this CLE class clip, Lindsey and John discuss the Who Regulates Alcohol Today.

Watch the Full Beer, Wine, & Spirits Law CLE Class

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates food safety, GRAS, and food facility registration. They have some authority over beverage alcohol in regard to food safety issues. GRAS stands for generally recognized as safe (GRAS) pertains to ingredients and usage of ingredients.

Food facilities are required to register with the FDA, as are any facilities processing, packaging, or holding alcohol products intended for sale to consumers. FDA filing is also a requirement for international companies with some restrictions.

Customs regulates imported wines, beers, and spirits, Customs also collects importation excise taxes on bottled products, and regulates country of origin, marking on packaging, and labels.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) deals with false and/or deceptive advertising.

The Department of Agriculture (USDA), regulates organic standards and labeling.

USPTO governs trademarks and geographical indications.

State agencies also have governing authority over alcohol.

Many agencies regulate alcohol in the US, though the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has primary authority. The TTB’s governing agency is actually the Department of Treasury, because they collect excise taxes on alcohol. They were previously known as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. (BATF), though under the Homeland Security Act, was restructured and renamed. Their power derives from the Federal Alcohol Administration Act, and their jurisdiction is interstate commerce. The TTB has a very broad scope of jurisdiction regulating alcohol in the US.