Posts Tagged: TTB

Government Shutdown Impacts Breweries

Planning to brew something that needs a formula approval or a COLA approval? Have a new facility in the works? If so, you might want to reconfigure your schedule because the government shutdown has caused the TTB to suspend many of its functions.  While you can still access certain functions on the TTB’s website, including Permits Online, Formulas Online, and COLAs Online, those applications will not be reviewed until after the government shutdown is over.  In addition, TTB personnel have been told not to report to work and, according to the website, are prohibited by federal law from volunteering their services during the shutdown.  This means that if you have a question or an issue with your application, nobody at TTB is available to assist you. Furthermore, TTB cannot update its website during the shutdown, so it is possible that some of the information will be outdated or otherwise inaccurate. We still recommend that you file the applications because there is no telling how long or short the shutdown will be.  Moreover, if others file and you do not, there could be a significant backlog once regular service is restored, which could further delay approval of your application. (more…)

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The TTB is Watching – Beverage Community Asked to Self-Report Violations

As the TTB enters a more user-friendly phase with its updated online registration portal, it is important to remember that it remains an enforcement arm of the federal government for the beverage alcohol community. In a somewhat ominous circular, the TTB requested that “each industry member review its promotional business practices to assure that such activities comply with the letter and spirit of the Federal trade practices laws and regulations.”  Not only did it ask for each community member to review its practices, the TTB also “encourage[d] each member of the regulated community to voluntarily disclose its own violations upon discovery.”  According to the circular, voluntary disclosure could lessen the actions, if any, taken by the TTB in response to those violations.  To assist with that compliance, the TTB circular provided a link to the Federal trade practice laws and regulations.  It should be noted that the TTB can seek to suspend or revoke basic permits or initiate criminal referrals.  (more…)

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TTB Expands Allowable Changes to Labels without Resubmission, but Reminds us that One Label “Does Not (Necessarily) Fit All”

Certificate of Label Approval (or COLA) can be one of the more frustrating processes for brewers.  Each label must be approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).  Once the COLA is issued, only certain, limited changes can be made to the label without resubmitting it for new approval.  In many situations, there are state requirements that must also be met.

Until March 26, 2018, there were only 34 categories of label revisions that could be made without a new application.  On March 26, 2018, the TTB issued Industry Circular Number 2018-2, which amended an existing category and added three new categories of label revisions that may be made without submitting a new application (click here for the full list of categories). (more…)

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Opening Day Edition: Beer Advertising and Sports

Today (March 29) is baseball’s opening day and beer and baseball are in the news.  The New York Yankees appear to be in trouble for their new “Pinstripe Pilsner” which has an image of your favorite Yankee player in the foam.  But those of you wanting to take a sip of Aaron Judge’s mug may have to wait, since MLB does not allow current players on beer advertising.

Beer has been linked with baseball for as long as baseball has existed.  In fact, the original Cincinnati Redstockings left the National League in 1881 when its brewer-owner refused to sign a “no beer at the ballpark” pledge.  Today, there are still calls to take the suds out of sports.  But knowing the current do’s and don’ts of sports advertising will help you stay a-head of the game. (more…)

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A Different Kind of Bud: Cannabis in the Alcoholic Beverage Industry

Last week, on March 22, 2018, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission issued an Advisory on cannabis in alcoholic beverages. Here is a copy of the  Cannabis in Alcohol Advisory. While retail sales of cannabis are expected to be lawful under Massachusetts law (while still an illegal schedule I drug under federal law), as of July 1, 2018, the Commission noted that “it will remain unlawful to manufacture and/or sell alcoholic beverages containing any cannabinoid extracts, including tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) and cannabidiol (“CBD”), regardless of whether it is derived from the cannabis plant or industrial hemp.”

Specifically, the Commission noted that “Cannabinoid extract from the cannabis plant is considered a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Agency” and “[i]nfusing or otherwise adding cannabinoid extract in alcoholic beverages is considered adulteration of alcohol” under Massachusetts General Law chapter 270, chapter 1.  The Commission notes that in addition to being considered an adulteration of alcohol under Massachusetts law it would also likely be a violation of the federal Food and Drug Administration’s Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, as “A food shall be deemed to be adulterated . . . [i]f it bears or contains any poisonous or deleterious substance which may render it injurious to health . . . .” 21 U.S.C. § 342(a). (more…)

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No New COLA Required to Add Brewers Association’s Independent Craft Brewer Seal to Labels

The Brewers Association continues to streamline the process for eligible brewers to adopt the new independent craft brewers seal. Obtaining a license to use the new seal is relatively straightforward and only requires (1) a valid Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) Brewer’s Notice, (2) confirmation that your brewery falls within the Brewers Association’s “craft brewer” definition, and (3) agreement to and compliance with certain licensing terms. More information about the new independent craft brewer seal can be found in our previous blog post, “In the Beer Aisle: Independent Craft Brewers to Stand Out from the Rest of the Pack(s).” (more…)

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Labels – It’s Not just the TTB that’s watching

As purveyors of beverages containing alcohol, most craft brewers, distillers and wineries are aware of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax And Trade Bureau (“TTB”) rules for labels, and the sometimes onerous task involved in getting those labels approved.  To avoid extra expenses and delays, those who are not aware of the TTB requirements need to quickly get up to speed on those rules or engage counsel who can guide you through the process.  We cannot overstate the importance of following TTB rules, and making sure every label change conforms with the rules, including new approvals where necessary.  The TTB takes the rules very seriously.  So seriously that it annually conducts a random compliance investigation and publicly publishes the results of that investigation. (more…)

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I Wine, You Wine, We all Wine for Ice Cream . . . But Not in Massachusetts

Late last month, Massachusetts’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission issued an advisory entitled “Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (“ABCC”) Advisory to § 18 Wholesalers/Importers and § 19 Manufacturers Regarding Alcohol-Infused Ice Cream.”  The Advisory notes that Massachusetts General Law chapter 138 prohibits the importation, manufacturing, and sale of ice cream that contains alcohol with one limited exception—“where the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (“TTB”) has classified in writing that a particular product is a ‘nonbeverage product.’”  The ABCC further noted that the TTB classification was “specific to each individual product a business manufactures, and not a business’s entire line of products.”  The advisory is available here.

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