October 18, 2012
The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) recently released its revised Green Guides, which provide guidance to marketers and advertisers regarding claims that a product is “environmentally-friendly” or has other “green” attributes. The revised guidance replaces the version of the Green Guides released in 2010, which we discussed here. The core of the Green Guides remains the same, requiring that suppliers substantiate terms such as “eco-friendly”, “biodegradable”, “nontoxic”, “compostable”, “recyclable”, “made of recycled materials”, “made using renewable energy” and “carbon neutral” when used to describe a product.
The new Green Guides elaborate on the use of the above-listed terms, and caution marketers not to make unqualified general environmental benefit claims because “it is highly unlikely that marketers can substantiate all reasonable interpretations of these claims.” The new guidance stems in part from a recent FTC consumer perception study that concluded that such claims are often interpreted to suggest that the product has more far-reaching environmental benefits than can actually be supported. The new Green Guides provide guidance on how to substantiate such environmentally-based claims.
The guides also include new information on several other topics including: unqualified biodegradable claims; claims regarding a product being compostable, recyclable, or ozone-friendly; certifications and seals of approval; carbon offsets; “free-of” claims; non-toxic claims; made with renewable energy claims; and made with renewable materials claims. The new Green Guides can be found in their entirety here.
The new guidance is important for alcohol industry members, and is a reminder that environmental claims must be substantiated. Additionally, keep in mind that environmentally-based claims as they relate to alcoholic product labels are also regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (“TTB”), as we’ve discussed here.
Contact one of the attorneys at Strike & Techel if you have questions about advertising or labeling issues.
Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved ·
August 24, 2011
Ever wonder whether the claim that a wine uses “organic grapes” is really true? Wine is one area where if such claims make their way onto a wine bottle, they are almost certainly valid, as the TTB and the National Organic Program (“NOP”) maintain extremely strict requirements for organic claims on the label. The NOP has four primary categories for alcoholic beverages: 1) “100% Organic,” 2) “Organic,” meaning at least 95% organic and with no chemically added sulfites, 3) “Made with Organic [ingredients],” requiring at least 70% organic ingredients and may contain chemically added sulfites, and 4) for certain products that contain less than 70% organic ingredients, the ingredients statement may disclose the organic components.
In order to make any organic claims on a wine bottle or other alcohol label, TTB requires several sources of verification, making for a comprehensive but arduous application process. Along with the items normally required for label approval, applicants must first provide a Processor’s or Handler’s Operation Certificate, which certifies that the winery uses accepted NOP standards. This is often referred to by the TTB as the “organic certificate.” Notably, imported wines sometimes have difficulty meeting this requirement because foreign certifications are only sufficient if the foreign entity is also a USDA-Accredited Certifying Agent. Next, applicants must provide an Accredited Certifying Agent Preview, which indicates that the label has been reviewed and found to be in compliance with TTB rules. Additionally, applicants may need to provide a crop certificate that certifies that the agricultural produce used in the product were grown to NOP standards.
The TTB also has specific rules for the label itself, including requiring a “certification statement,” which includes the name of the accredited certifying agent. These requirements must be repeated for each vintage year, as labels for new vintages must be resubmitted for approval.
Notably, despite these strict requirements for organic wine labels, other statements on wine bottles that pertain to farming techniques and other “green” claims are largely unregulated by the TTB. However, this is a fast-evolving area, so stay tuned.
If you need assistance with organic labels, the attorneys at Strike & Techel are familiar with the process and able to help.
UPDATE: On June 12, 2012, the TTB announced a change to the organic documentation requirements. A copy of the organic certificate is no longer required to accompany COLA applications for alcoholic beverages with “100% Organic,” “Organic,” or “Made with Organic (ingredients)” on their labels. The Accredited Certifying Agent Preview is still required. Please eee the TTB release, available here, for additional information.
Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2010-2012 · All Rights Reserved ·
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