The French government has reportedly abandoned a campaign suggesting French people abstain from drinking alcohol during the month of January following pressure from wine producers. The plan was apparently inspired by a promotion launched by a U.K. advocacy group in 2013 that encourages alcohol abstinence during January and mindful alcohol consumption in the months that follow. The French health minister reportedly confirmed that discussion for a Dry January campaign would not be held until a ministerial health prevention committee meeting in February 2020.
The Portman Group, a U.K. alcohol industry self-regulatory group, has upheld a complaint against the Bearded Brewery for the name of its high-alcohol cider, Suicyder. A member of the public complained about the beverage name's reference to suicide, calling Suicyder "clearly irresponsible" because it purportedly targets young men—"the group at highest risk of suicide"—and uses associated iconography, such as the tagline "juice from the noose." The company asserted that the "name of the cider was based on a wordplay with the intention being to indicate the strength of the alcohol content" and explained that the tagline was a reference to the founders' previous work with the Forestry Commission that required them to use a noose to dismantle unsafe trees. The panel was unpersuaded by tagline explanation, noting that "a consumer would have to understand this inside knowledge to displace the main connotation portrayed by the product name and imagery on…
The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against The Cornish Rum Co. against its ads marketing Dead Man's Fingers Hemp Rum. The complainant asserted that two Instagram posts and an ad in a trade magazine used language linking the hemp-infused rum to cannabis, including "Delicious mixed with coke or ginger ale—serve chilled, man. Coming to a joint near you." Another Instagram post featured an image of an outdoor ad reading "Warning: Our Hemp Rum May Cause the Munchies" along with "an image of a skull which was smoking and wearing a hat with a cannabis leaf print." The trade magazine ad included the text "Dealers Wanted." ASA dismissed the portion of the complaint arguing that the ad was intended to appeal to an audience under 18, finding that the images "were not references associated with youth culture and that overall the colours and imagery used gave each…
A D.C. court has dismissed Bellion Spirits LLC's lawsuit aiming to compel the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to permit the company to market its products as containing "NTX, a proprietary blend of ingredients that they contend mitigates alcohol's damage to DNA." Bellion Spirits LLC v. United States, No. 17-2538 (D.D.C., entered August 1, 2019). TTB denied Bellion's application to make the health claims because it purportedly found inadequate substantiation after consulting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Bellion filed suit, arguing that TTB could not work with FDA without express statutory authority. The court disagreed, finding that TTB has exclusive regulatory authority to make final decisions on alcohol, but nothing prohibits the agencies from consulting with each other. The court also dismissed Bellion's First Amendment argument, which maintained that its claims about NTX are true; the court noted that it must be deferential to…
A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Bacardi U.S.A. Inc.'s Bombay Sapphire is made with grains of paradise, amounting to adulteration under Florida law. Marrache v. Bacardi U.S.A. Inc., Filing No. 93932678 (Fla. Cir. Ct., 11th Jud. Cir., filed August 9, 2019). The complaint cites a Florida statute deeming the inclusion of grains of paradise—along with several other substances described as "poisonous or injurious to health," including opium, capsicum, laurel water and cochineal—in any liquor intended for consumption to be adulterated, amounting to a felony of the third degree. The plaintiff notes that the Bombay Sapphire bottle features an etching of 10 botanicals, including grains of paradise—which "has been used in other parts of the world for medicinal purposes including, without limitation, to treat impotence and to stimulate miscarriages when a pregnancy was unwanted."
The Scotch Whisky Association has filed a lawsuit alleging that the name of Virginia Distillery Co.'s Virginia-Highland Whisky misleads consumers into believing the alcohol beverage is a product of Scotland. Scotch Whisky Ass'n v. Va. Distillery Co., No. 19-1264 (D. Del., filed July 8, 2019). The complaint asserts the Virginia Distillery Co. product is described as "Whisky from Scotland married with Virginia Whisky," allegedly violating federal regulations prohibiting the use of "words commonly associated with Scotland to designate any product not wholly produced in Scotland," including "Highland" and "Highlands." The association seeks an injunction, a recall, fees and costs for allegations of false advertising, unfair competition and deceptive trade practices.
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) will allow distillers to use a variety of casks—including those previously used to age tequila and fruit spirits—to age Scotch whisky during its required three-year maturation, according to the Wall Street Journal. Regulations previously limited acceptable casks to those previously used to hold sherry, cognac, bourbon or port. Some distillers told the news outlet that the change would allow companies to create "new flavor experiences" for Scotch whisky drinkers, while others expressed apprehension. "Scotch needs to be judged by its color, taste and traditionality," a former chief executive of the SWA told WSJ. "Clearly if you then had a whisky that tasted of tequila—if it used an ex-tequila cask—it would not be a Scotch whisky."
Anchor Brewing Co. has filed an opposition against D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc.'s application to register "James River Steam Brewery" as a trademark, arguing that the proposed mark will confuse consumers familiar with its product Anchor Steam. Anchor Brewing Co. v. D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc., No. 91247967 (U.S.P.T.O., opposition filed May 3, 2019). Anchor asserts that it owns the rights to use "Steam Beer," which describes "an indigenous style of beer known as California common beer." The use of "James River Steam Brewery," Anchor argues, "is likely to create the false impression that Applicant's goods are provided by, related to, endorsed by, or associated with Opposer."
The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has issued an industry circular stating that it "will return for correction any applications for formulas containing 'hemp' ingredients (other than ingredients derived from hemp seeds or hemp seed oil)" until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indicates that the ingredients' use would not violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The circular, addressed to wineries, breweries, distilleries and importers, states that TTB consults with FDA on ingredients' safety and notes that, despite the change in the definition for "marijuana" in the 2018 Farm Bill, "FDA stressed that food companies that wish to use cannabis or cannabis-derived ingredients in their foods are subject to the relevant laws and regulations that govern all food products, including those that relate to the requirements for food additive approval and substantiation of evidence for Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status."
A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that O Organics and Lucerne Foods Inc. "greatly understate" the alcohol and sugar content of their kombucha. Freedline v. O Organics LLC, No. 19-1945 (N.D. Cal., filed April 10, 2019). The plaintiff argues that "the beverages contain more than three to five times the alcohol allowed for non-alcoholic beverages" and "are sold to unsuspecting children, pregnant women, persons suffering with alcohol dependence issues, and a host of other people for whom alcohol consumption may pose a grave and immediate safety risk." The complaint cites lab testing purportedly showing levels of alcohol by volume between 1.63 and 2.63 percent. The plaintiff alleges violations of California's consumer-protection statutes as well as breach of warranties, fraud, unjust enrichment and negligent misrepresentation, and he seeks class certification, damages, restitution and attorney's fees.