June 12, 2014 -- Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors announced today that they will post the ingredients for some of their beers online, after a blogger known as the Food Babe petitioned the country's largest breweries to be more "transparent.”
In an email to blogger Vani Hari obtained by ABC News, Anheuser-Busch said consumers can already obtain "significant information" about its beer through its consumer hotline (1-800-DIAL-BUD) and on its global website Tap Into Your Beer.
"However, as American consumer needs evolve, we want to meet their expectations," company spokesman Terri Vogt wrote in the email. "Therefore, we are working to list our beer ingredients on our website, just as you would see for other food and non-alcohol beverage producers. We are beginning immediately, having incorporated this information earlier today on www.tapintoyourbeer.com for our flagship brands, Budweiser and Bud Light, and will be listing this for our other brands in the coming days.”
MillerCoors quickly followed suit, telling ABC News that it plans to post ingredients for its most popular brands.
“We also value transparency and are happy to comply with the request for additional information,” spokesman Peter Marino said in a statement. “Earlier this year, we led all alcohol companies by voluntarily placing a nutritional label on our Miller64 brand and we will be putting more ingredient information online in the days ahead.”
Hari's online petition garnered 40,000 signatures in 24 hours.
She claims that some beers contain additives like high-fructose corn syrup, stabilizers and artificial flavoring, which have been linked to obesity, allergies, hyperactivity and gastrointestinal problems. She also alleges that big brewers include unappetizing things like propylene glycol, a foaming ingredient found in airplane deicing liquid, and even use fish swim bladders during brewing for clarity.
Hari claimed victory for the quick responses.
"It’s pretty amazing that making your voice heard can change the policies of a multi-billion dollar company,” she told ABC News.
The federal government does not require companies to disclose their ingredients or brewing processes. Hari has been on a mission to get more transparency in the beer industry.
"I just want full disclosure," she said, "not to change labels and go through government labels -- just to disclose it online so everyone can see."
The 35-year-old food activist from North Carolina takes credit for two other consumer victories: getting Kraft to remove yellow dyes from its children's Mac & Cheese products; and urging Subway to get an ingredient used in yoga mats out of its bread.
The average American drinks about 21 gallons of beer annually, making it the third-most-popular drink in the United States, after soda and bottled water, according to a 2010 article in Advertising Age. Beer is still the most popular alcoholic beverage, a favorite among 36 percent of Americans, according to a 2013 Gallup Poll.
"However, an industry member who makes caloric or carbohydrate claims on a label must also include either a statement of average analysis, which provides the number of calories, as well as the number of grams of carbohydrates, protein and fat per serving size, or a serving facts statement, which adds the serving size and number of servings per container and may also include alcohol content," wrote TTB spokesman Thomas Hogue in an email to ABC News.
Allergen labeling is currently on a voluntary basis, although the TTB does require that additives like sulfite, which can cause life-threatening allergies, and yellow dye 5, which has been linked to hyperactivity in children, be on alcohol labels.
But alcohol makers must adhere to the "good manufacturing practices" enforced by the Food and Drug Administration and all its safety standards.
Both MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch told ABC News that they were in full compliance with all federal and state labeling requirements.