ALCOHOL LAW ADVISOR
ALCOHOL LAW ADVISOR
Regulatory and Distribution Law Updates for the Alcohol Industry
ALCOHOL LAW ADVISOR
Regulatory and Distribution Law Updates for the Alcohol Industry
US District Court for the District of Columbia
Subscribe to US District Court for the District of Columbia's Posts

Court Dismisses Challenge to TTB’s Rejection of Health Claims on Vodka

In August, the US District Court for the District of Columbia issued its final decision in Bellion Spirits, LLC v. United States, Civ. No. 17-2538 (JEB). The Bellion case was brought by spirits company Bellion Spirits after the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) refused to approve a series of health claims advanced by Bellion in connection with its vodka products. According to Bellion, the infusion of its vodka with a compound called NTX will mitigate the damage alcohol inflicts on human DNA. In 2016, Bellion petitioned TTB to approve eight specific claims related to the NTX-infused vodka. After consulting with the federal Food & Drug Administration (FDA), in 2017 TTB rejected all eight claims. Bellion then brought suit, arguing that TTB’s actions with respect to two of its claims were illegal and unconstitutional. Bellion’s complaint advanced four counts alleging that: TTB impermissibly delegated authority to FDA by consulting with FDA during...

Continue Reading

TTB Label Approval System Survives First Amendment Challenge from DC Brewery

I. Factual Background During the 34-day government shutdown occurring between December 2018 and January 2019, producers and importers of beer, wine and distilled spirits needing label approval to bring new products to market were forced to wait until the shutdown was resolved, when TTB could begin again to process COLA applications. The difficulties presented by this situation included the prospect of needing to destroy valuable, perishable inventory. Unable to obtain a COLA due to the shutdown, Atlas Brew Works (Atlas) filed suit in January in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging the constitutionality of the COLA system. Atlas alleged that the requirement to obtain label approval violates the First Amendment, since, in the event of a government shutdown, the COLA requirement amounted to a prior restraint on protected speech. As the court explained in its opinion, Atlas’s argument boiled down to the claim that “a law that prohibits...

Continue Reading

ABI/SAB Miller Deal: DOJ Clarifies Best Efforts Clause in Proposed Final Judgment

As most members of the alcohol and beverage industry are aware, Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) acquired the global holdings of SABMiller in a more than $100 billion merger in October 2016. The Department of Justice (DOJ) required ABI to divest SABMiller’s United States business, including its ownership interest in MillerCoors. Since November 2016, the parties have engaged in ongoing briefing seeking approval of a Proposed Final Judgment (PFJ) in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. A key question in the latest round of briefing was the meaning of “best efforts” language in the PFJ. The PFJ states that “nothing in this Final Judgment shall prohibit Defendant ABI from entering into or enforcing an agreement with any Independent Distributor requiring the Independent Distributor to use best efforts to sell, market, advertise, or promote Defendant ABI’s Beer, which may be defined as efforts designed to achieve and maintain the highest practicable sales...

Continue Reading

FDA’s Delay of the Menu Labeling Rule Challenged

Two consumer advocacy groups recently sued the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for delaying the compliance deadline for the agency’s 2014 menu labeling rule for a fourth time. The menu labeling rule requires menu items offered for sale in restaurants with 20 or more locations to disclose nutritional information and the number of calories in each standard menu item. FDA and Congress previously extended or delayed compliance with the menu labeling rule three times in 2015 and 2016. Before the latest delay, the most recent “compliance date” for the menu labeling rule was May 5, 2017. FDA’s Justification of the Delay The day before the compliance date, FDA delayed the compliance date for an additional year by issuing an interim final rule. This interim final rule stated the extension of the compliance date was (1) consistent with three executive orders and (2) done in response to questions raised by stakeholders affected by the menu labeling rule and its...

Continue Reading

STAY CONNECTED

TOPICS

ARCHIVES