Food & Beverage Perspectives
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AHPA, INSIDER Partner on Kombucha Education Webinars

INSIDER has partnered with the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) to bring you three webinars as part of a new kombucha education program presented by AHPA.

INSIDER has partnered with the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) to bring you three webinars as part of a new kombucha education program presented by AHPA.

AHPA’s recently launched education program, made possible via support from KeVita, Inc., is designed to encourage and support compliance with kombucha manufacturing, labeling and sales regulations under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). The webinars specifically will help to inform the industry about the current regulatory structure and issues facing the industry, and will receive promotional support from INSIDER.

The kombucha webinars will be presented from 1 to 3 p.m. ET on the following dates and will cover:

  • TTB Basics on Sept. 29;
  • Alcohol Analysis on Oct. 14; and
  • Tax, Labeling and Legislation on Nov. 4.

Kombucha is a fermented beverage that usually contains a small amount of alcohol that is naturally produced by traditional manufacturing processes. When kombucha contains 0.5 percent alcohol or more by volume at any time, it comes under the jurisdiction of TTB regulations. In such cases, certain kombucha manufacturers could benefit from a bill that would reduce excise taxes, compliance burdens, and regulations for small beer, wine, cider and distilled spirit producers. That is, if the legislation—the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (S.1562 and H.R. 2903)—is passed.

"AHPA's new education program will provide kombucha manufacturers and marketers with the resources and knowledge they need to effectively comply with current laws and regulations that affect this product category," said AHPA President Michael McGuffin. "The goal of the program is to assist all kombucha brands to benefit from the remarkable growth in the kombucha category by directly addressing legal issues so companies can focus their resources on meeting the growing consumer demand for these healthy beverages."

In addition to AHPA’s education program, kombucha manufacturers can turn to a newly revised informational kombucha webpage created by the TTB. The webpage will provide answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) that specifically address when a kombucha product is considered an alcohol beverage and alcohol content testing methods. The revised FAQs webpage was also reorganized to provide further clarity.

According to the webpage, companies that produce kombucha that contain 0.5 percent or more alcohol by volume at any point during the manufacturing or sales processes are subject to the Internal Revenue Code provisions that apply to alcohol beverages and products must be labeled with the health warning statement required by the Alcoholic Beverage Labeling Act of 1988. Depending on how the product is produced, the labeling provisions of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act may also apply.

Other topics addressed on the webpage are alcohol testing, testing methods and federal tax requirements for kombucha products classified as beer.

The TTB suggests all kombucha producers take appropriate steps, including testing of alcohol content, to ensure that the alcohol content of their product does not reach or exceed 0.5 percent alcohol by volume at any time during production, during bottling or after bottling.

Further, to ensure the reliability of results, producers may use any method that has been formally validated (e.g., that underwent a multi-laboratory performance evaluation) or that is otherwise scientifically valid for purposes of determining the alcohol content of beverages, including beverages that contain less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume. A scientifically valid method is, among other things, accurate, precise and specific for its intended purpose, and it has results that are consistently reliable, accurate, and reproducible.

When TTB tests samples of kombucha products from the marketplace, it generally uses the distillation-specific gravity method, using a densitometer instead of a pycnometer.

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