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    You Ask, I Answer: Nutrition Labels on Alcoholic Beverages

    Mike's Hard LemonadeWhy don’t alcoholic beverages have nutrition labels?

    — Corey Clark
    (Location Unknown)

    The answer is quite dull — bureaucracy.

    Since alcohol is regulated by the US Bureau of Tobacco, Alcohol, and Firearms — and not the Food & Drug Administration — those products are not required to carry a Nutrition Facts label.

    Interestingly, any alcoholic beverages that make weight or calorie-related claims (such as “light beers”) must display calorie values.

    Last year, there was talk of the Department of Treasury — huh? — mandating that all alcoholic beverages display a Nutrition Facts label by 2010, although I don’t know what the current status of that is.

    In the meantime, here are some helpful caloric reminders:

    • A 12-ounce bottle of regular beer contains, on average, 145 calories
    • A 12-ounce bottle of light beer, on average, adds up to 110 calories
    • A 12-ounce bottle of an alcoholic beverage like Mike’s Hard Lemonade or Smirnoff Ice contains approximately 220 calories
    • A 1.5 ounce shot of hard liquor provides, on average, 98 calories (depending on the specific liquor, this figure can range from 80 to 120 calories)
    • A serving of wine (defined as a hard-to-gauge 5 ounces) contains, on average, 115 calories

    As you can imagine, it is easiest to keep track of calories that come in bottles or cans (if you polish off three 12-ounce bottles of regular beer in one night, some simple math reveals you drank approximately 435 calories).

    The problems come in when a bartender makes a drink that may have anywhere from 1.5 to 3 ounces of hard liquor, or when your glass of red wine is refilled throughout the night before it ever has a chance to run empty.

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