Arthur J. Libertucci, the former administrator of the United States’ Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), has been selected by the World Business Academy to serve as chairman of the Technical Advisory Board for its Truth-in-Labeling initiative for the kombucha industry. The California-based non-profit announced the appointment in a press release Monday, which follows last month’s official introduction of its alcohol compliance testing program for kombucha brewers.
“I am thrilled to participate in the development of this vital program,” Libertucci said. “It’s important that consumers be provided assurance concerning the actual alcoholic content in these beverages and this program will help producers and distributors assure that consumers are adequately informed.”
Libertucci will bring more than 40 years of experience in the regulation of the alcohol, tobacco and firearms industries to his new role. Prior to being administrator of the TTB, he served as Assistant Director for the ATF for 14 years. Since his departure from the TTB in 2005, he’s worked as an independent consultant in those aforementioned industries, working with some of the largest producers, distributors, importers and associations in the space.
Backed by a $100,000 grant from probiotic beverage brand KeVita, the World Business Academy’s Truth-on-Labeling initiative came out of the TTB’s recently renewed interest in alcohol compliance within the kombucha category. In March, the TTB issued a reminder in its weekly newsletter that kombucha products containing more than 0.5 percent alcohol are subject to the same regulation as other alcoholic beverages. In May, KeVita co-founder and CEO Bill Moses pointed to that reminder as a “tipping point” to become involved in the regulation of the kombucha industry, specifically in regards to alcohol compliance.
The TTB’s interest in the issue has continued since, evidenced by the publishing of a new kombucha page on its website, as well as a September letter from current TTB administrator John J. Manfreda to Colorado congressman Jared Polis, which reiterated the agency’s position that many kombucha makers are not in compliance.
“Unfortunately, TTB continues to find kombucha products in the marketplace that are not properly labeled as alcohol beverages despite containing 0.5 percent or more alcohol by volume,” Manfreda wrote. “Conseqently, we have re-issued our guidance on kombucha in the hope that this will help industry members and protect consumers.”