The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has experienced some difficult times in the last several years due to reduced staffing and declining budgets. These factors have made it difficult for the agency to accomplish two of its major functions; Permitting and Approving Labels.
TTB has attempted to address the Label Approval issue by instituting two recent changes. First in April 2011, the agency announced that would discontinue evaluating labels for purposes of ensuring that the labels conform to all applicable legibility and type size requirements (including characters per inch and contrasting background). As always, the responsible industry member is obligated to ensure proper labeling for their products and this new procedure ensures new label approvals will contain a statement to that effect.
Then on July 5, 2012, TTB published a revised version of TTB Form 5100.31, Application for and Certification/Exemption of Label/Bottle Approval, also known as a certificate of label approval or COLA. The most significant change made was to expand the list of items that may be changed on an alcohol beverage label without TTB approval. Highlights of the new revisions include the following. Holders of approved labels may: