A federal regulatory agency has approved the contents of a controversial advertising campaign launched recently by the distillery firm of Joseph A. Seagram & Sons that argues that typical servings of wine, beer and distilled spirits have "equivalent" amounts of alcohol.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' position was contained in a letter released by Seagram on Tuesday.
The letter, by the bureau's deputy director, William T. Drake, states that an evaluation of medical and scientific information from the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism led the agency to conclude that Seagram's contention that the servings of alcohol in typical beverages are equivalent and "are not false and misleading."
Edgar Bronfman Jr., president of the House of Seagram, said in a statement accompanying release of the letter: " Equivalence is not only valid, it is a vital piece of information for drivers, pregnant women, people with the disease of alcoholism and any other adult." The doctrine is included in the drivers manuals of 34 states, including California, he added.
Representatives of Winegrowers of California, which had sharply challenged the ad campaign, called the bureau's position "beyond our understanding." The wine growers group is to meet with the bureau next week to rebut Seagram's contention.