Have you ever wondered why foods such as cookies, frozen entrees, and chips have to have a nutrition facts panel on them but beverages such as beer, wine, and other forms of alcohol to not?

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my red wine and a refreshing beer from one of my local craft breweries but if the federal and provincial regulatory bodies make calorie containing beverages such as pop and juice have nutrition facts panels, alcohol should too. In a recent press release the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced that it is planning to simply regulations and allow for more innovation in the Canadian beer industry. At first thought, this innovation sounds great. I have had some incredible tasting and creative beers in the past year and I welcome more of that.

Why not also use this change in regulation as an opportunity to help Canadian’s make more informed drinking choices?

While I do not advocate for regulation to apply to small producers, I think it should be mandatory for large companies with highly consistent products to have a nutrition facts panel on their label (Molson Coors and Labbatt – this means you!) or at the very least on their website. In the past, I have even contacted these companies to ask for information on a particular beer and they did not even reply!


What are the simplified regulations proposed for beer?

  • Beer labels must declare food allergens, gluten sources, or added sulphites

No changes regarding the nutrition labelling are proposed. Current regulations say beverages containing 0.5% or more alcohol are except from having a nutrition facts panel. Some products are exempt if they are making a nutrient content claim or if it contains added artificial sweeteners. Yep, that’s right – a cooler with artificial sweetener would need to have a nutrition facts panel to tell you it does not have any sugar, but the regular cooler with a high sugar content would not have to have a nutrition facts panel.

How can I know what is in in my drink without it having a nutrition facts panel?

Generalized estimates are what you can keep in mind, and I have included them in the table below. Keep in mind websites like MyFitnessPal allow users to enter information and if you look up a particular drink in their database, the information could be wrong (I once met someone who though Mill St. Organic had 8 g of protein per bottle – I wish!)

Alcohol, like many other things, are fine in moderation, but moderation is something that can be a struggle, especially on long weekends in the summer. Having a nutrition facts panel on alcohol would be a wakeup call to many and make following the Low Risk Drinking Guidelines found here a bit easier.

Drink   Approximate Calories
Light beer (4% alcohol), 1 bottle or 12 oz 99
Regular beer (5% alcohol), 1 bottle or 12 oz 140
Non-alcoholic beer (0.5% alcohol), 1 can or 350 mL 210
Daiquiri, 7 oz 260
Pina Colada, 4.5 oz 245
Vodka, 1.5 oz 100
Wine (11.5% alcohol), 5 oz 100