TTB Formula Approval – Recent changes

Blog 11, 38, and 39

Ingredients and Processes Used in the Production of Beer Not Subject to Formula Requirements – TTB Ruling Number 2014-4 Interpreted

This is the first of a series of blogs interpreting the TTB’s efforts to streamline the formula process for breweries.  This blog will focus on TTB’s adjustments to the formula requirement relating to the use of food ingredients in malt beverage production.

As all brewers know, federal regulations require submission to TTB for approval of a formula if the brewer intends to produce any fermented product that will be treated by any processing, filtration, or other methods of manufacture that is not generally recognized as a traditional process in the production of a fermented beverage designated as beer, ale, porter, stout, lager, or malt liquor.

Regulations require a formula if certain natural and artificial flavors or colorings are added to a fermented product, unless TTB finds that the additive is “generally recognized as a traditional ingredient” used in the production of a fermented beverage designated as a beer, ale, porter, stout, lager or malt liquor.  Over the past few years, there has been a surge of formula requests as craft brewers have expanded beer styles.  Efforts were made by the industry, including a petition filed with TTB by the Brewer’s Association, to exempt many of these additives.

TTB ultimately reviewed data and determined that the Brewer’s Association’s characterization of the issues was accurate – these ingredients are being used more and more, there are few compliance issues and no obvious consumer concerns.  Basically, the government decided to make the system more efficient and less burdensome for industry producers.

The TTB Ruling provides an attachment of ingredients that they have exempted from the formula requirements of the regulations.  The exempt ingredients are categorized as Fruits, Spices and Other Exempted Ingredients.  Fruits include 13 different whole fruits, fruit juices, fruit purees or fruit concentrates.  Among these are apples, pumpkin, peaches and raspberries.  13 different spices are referenced including cinnamon, ginger, allspice and vanilla.  TTB expressly stated that vanilla will only include whole bean as vanilla powder could include ingredients TTB doesn’t have the power to exempt. Further, TTB would not exempt vanilla extract because it contains alcohol and TTB does not have the authority to exempt any item, other than hop extract, that contains alcohol.

The “Other Exempted Ingredient” category is further divided.  Honey, chili peppers, coffee (beans or grounds), and lactose are simply exempt.  Brown sugar, maple sugar/syrup, candy sugar, and molasses may be used in the fermentation of a malt beverage and the malt beverage does not have to include the ingredient in the designation of style – so, the brewer may simply label as “beer,” or “ale.”  Finally, the ruling indicates that “brewers may make non-misleading references to the use of chocolate malt by designating a product as, for example ‘chocolate stout,’ even though it contains no added chocolate.

Stay tuned for additional blogs explaining other aspects of this new ruling from TTB.  We are excited that the government has seized the opportunity to create some efficiency in the formula system.  Feel free to contact our office if you have any formula or label approval questions.

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