06/01/2013 03:40 EDT | Updated 07/31/2013 05:12 EDT

Gov't allows nutrient labels for the first time on alcohol drinks, but doesn't require them

WASHINGTON - Alcohol beverages could soon carry nutritional labels like those on food — but only if the producers want to put them there.

The Treasury Department, which regulates alcohol, said this week that beer, wine and spirits companies can place labels on packages that include serving size, servings per container, calories, carbohydrates, protein and fat per serving. Such labels have never before been approved.

Alcohol companies won't be required to use the labels because they are voluntary. The decision is a temporary, first step while the Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau continues to consider final rules on alcohol labels. Rules proposed in 2007 would have made labels mandatory but the agency never made the rules final.