Labeling for Alcoholic Products Exterior Packaging

Federal law requires that the well-recognized Government Warning:

GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. (2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems.

be affixed to a “conspicuous and prominent place on the container” of alcoholic beverages that are sold in the United States. But how does this work with multi-layered packaging, such as 6-packs of beer that have a carrying carton surrounding the bottles or cans? Is the “container” that must bear the Government Warning the single bottle or can, the exterior carrying carton, or both?

Perhaps surprisingly, the Government Warning is only required on each bottle or can in the 6-pack scenario. Even though the carrying carton is typically the consumer’s first interaction with the product, it is not included in the definition of a “container” that must contain the Government Warning. 27 C.F.R. § 16.10 specifically defines “Container” as “the innermost sealed container” in which the alcoholic beverage is placed and offered for sale. A phone call with the TTB confirmed they consider the carrying carton to be merely advertising.

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