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Diageo, DISCUS, Beer Institute Weigh In On New U.S. Dietary Guidelines For Alcohol

January 8, 2016

Diageo, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and the Beer Institute have all issued statements in favor of the new Dietary Guidelines for beverage alcohol that were posted yesterday by the U.S. government—but for different reasons. Diageo and DISCUS both hailed the new guidelines for stating that a “drink-equivalent” across all categories is equal to 0.6 fluid ounces of pure alcohol, while the Beer Institute commended them for “recognizing that not all drinks are equal, meaning one alcohol beverage can have significantly more or less calories and alcoholic content than another.”

“We applaud the USDA and HHS for underscoring and reiterating that there is no ‘drink of moderation,’ only the practice of moderation,” said Guy L. Smith, executive vice president, Diageo North America. “Not only do they reaffirm the definition of what they call ‘a drink-equivalent’ as 0.6 fluid ounces of pure alcohol, but they also provide clear reference examples including 12 ounces of regular beer (5% alcohol), 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol), or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (40% alcohol). We are delighted that the government has reinforced the clear science on this issue.”

Diageo, long a proponent of introducing serving facts on beverage alcohol products, rolled out its first such packaging last fall, starting with its Crown Royal brand. The company is planning to launch an updated version of its DRINKiQ website in the coming weeks, where consumers can research nutritional info on Diageo brands.

The Beer Institute, by contrast, focused its praise on the guidelines’ recognition of “drink variability.” Beer Institute CEO Jim McGreevy stated, “We are pleased that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture have recognized that drink-equivalents are not intended to serve as a standard drink definition for regulatory purposes. The Beer Institute has led the effort for years in educating the government and consumers in recognizing the importance that a mixed drink may include the equivalent of several light beers.”

The guidelines themselves urged consumers to take into account the varying numbers of “drink-equivalents” in any given alcoholic beverage.

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