On April 8, 2022, the Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau (“TTB”) issued a TTB Bulletin regarding the use of “Clean” labeling on alcohol beverages. It is a short, but pointed Bulletin, striking directly at the recent (and growing) trend of alcohol producers labeling their products as “clean.”
“Clean Wine” has become the term de jure and has been made popular by wines like Cameron Diaz’s “Avaline.” Not limited to wine, “clean” is used with spirits: “Clean Vodka” and other products. However, the term “clean” can be misleading says the TTB: “consumers should not interpret the term [“clean”] as meaning that the beverage is organic or has met other production standards set by TTB.”
TTB went on to provide a few clarifications:
“In some cases, the term “clean” is simply being used as a descriptor of the taste of the beverage, and is considered puffery. For example, “X winery makes a clean, crisp wine.
In other cases, the term is used together with other language to create the misleading impression that consumption of the alcohol beverage will have health benefits, or that the health risks otherwise associated with alcohol consumption will be mitigated. For example, ‘X malt beverage is clean and healthy’ or ‘Y vodka’s clean production methods mean no headaches for you.’”
Regarding these types of statements, the TTB was clear: “We would consider those claims to be misleading health-related statements.”
The TTB Clean Wine Bulletin is not a legal opinion, or enforcement standard, however, it is a pretty clear message to the industry to take caution in making unsubstantial claims. Also, look for Plaintiff’s lawyers to use this Bulletin against alcohol manufactures using the term “clean” in advertising in lawsuits for misrepresentation and false advertising. If you’re using the term “clean” on your bottle, or in advertising, take caution, re-evaluate that use, and, of course, call your insurance broker to make sure you have adequate coverages.