Getting a Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) for your products can be one of the most stressful experiences in owning a meadery. There are a lot of regulations, and even more TTB rules, and, even after the supremely helpful FAQs, there’s still a lot of confusion.
But there’s that option, right at the beginning of the process, allowing one to file for a COLA exemption. What the Fed is that?
COLA exemptions are for any products that do not enter Interstate Commerce. That means they are only for sale in your state, and not across any state lines.
And they’re wonderful.
The TTB has no real jurisdiction over non-Insterstate products, and so, to qualify for an exemption, the only required information is that listed in 27 CFR 24.257:
(ii) Wines that do not require label approval—(A) Adequate designation. If the wine is not subject to label approval under 27 CFR part 4 because it either is covered by a certificate of exemption from label approval or contains less than 7 percent alcohol by volume, its label must bear a designation that includes enough information (when viewed with the alcohol content statement) to identify the tax class under 26 U.S.C. 5041. The wine must be identified by the term “wine” (or a word that signifies a type of wine, such as “cider,” “perry,” or “mead,” as applicable). If the wine contains more than 0.392 gram of carbon dioxide per 100 milliliters, the word “sparkling” or “carbonated,” as applicable, must be included in the designation.
and the government health warning from 27 CFR 16.21:
GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects.
(2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems.
So that means, for your label of a product that is staying in state, you can write basically anything else truthful you’d like:
- Information can be included anywhere on the container
- Nonstandard fill size can be used
- No sulfite declaration is required
- Any origin statement
- No statement of composition
Now, of course, this doesn’t apply to anything you want to sell online or put into distribution. But for in-state distribution or taproom sales, exemptions can provide a great deal more freedom for labeling.
Also as always, there is always the potential for the person reviewing your label to be unfamiliar with the fairly arcane intricacies of these rules. If a label is returned, you believe in error, please reference this page in your conversations.