Our next Capitol Hill Climb to support the KOMBUCHA Act is a month away. This is a unique networking opportunity for ANY USA based Kombucha brewers to not only exercise their rights as US citizens but also to share quality time with fellow brewers. Here are all of the great things we do on our biannual Hill Climbs!
Network with fellow brewers and save money by sharing accommodations in the KBI Airbnb
Learn the ropes of lobbying with experienced brewers
Advocate for your industry
Create valuable relationship building skills with lawmakers
Join us in Washington DC on 7/24
Airbnb House 7/23-7/25 (leave morning of 7/25)
Dinner 7/23 & post lobbying meetup at The Dubliner 7/24, leave the morning of 7/25
Specifically looking for companies from Maine, Indiana, Montana, South Carolina & Florida to join us – do not have to be KBI members to participate in this event
If you are available to join us, please contact KBI at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive updated information as it becomes available.
We are booking an Airbnb that will be located near the Congressional offices, so please let us asap then if you would like to stay with us. The final cost is a LOT less expensive than renting a hotel room and allows all of us to share space, break bread and have fun!
KBI Official Guidance – Added Sugars & Nutrition Panel Changes
Based on the rules put forth by the FDA effective July 26, 2016, commercial Kombucha producers in the United States are required to indicate the sugar they add to the fermentation process as “Added Sugars.” However, the amount required to put on the label is AFTER fermentation has occurred. To be in compliance with this […]
Thursday, 21st December 2017
Based on the rules put forth by the FDA effective July 26, 2016, commercial Kombucha producers in the United States are required to indicate the sugar they add to the fermentation process as “Added Sugars.” However, the amount required to put on the label is AFTER fermentation has occurred. To be in compliance with this rule, it is advised that Kombucha producers in the United States submit their products to a third party lab for sugar testing. Clear records and scientific documentation that demonstrate the accurate amount of sugar grams in the final products along with a narrative of why the amount is different than the starting sugar are required to be kept on file. Any Kombucha producer that adds juice concentrate, sugar or sugar substitutes to their final product would need to also include that information as part of the “Added Sugars” amount on the label.
All sugar used for fermentation must be listed as ADDED SUGAR
Amount listed is the amount present in the product AFTER fermentation provided clear documentation and narrative are kept on file
Any other sugars added in the flavoring stage are also to be included as ADDED SUGAR
sugars (free, mono- and disaccharides) (this would included fructose, sucrose, and glucose)
sugars from syrups and honey
sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices that are in excess of what would be expected from the same volume of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice of the same type
The new rules put forth by the FDA regarding added sugars are listed here for reference (important details bolded by KBI):
Requiring the declaration of the gram amount of “added sugars” in a serving of a product, establishing a Daily Reference Value (DRV), and requiring the percent Daily Value (DV) declaration for added sugars;
Changing “Sugars” to “Total Sugars” and requiring that “Includes `X’ g Added Sugars” be indented and declared directly below “Total Sugars” on the label;
The rule requires a manufacturer with sugars added before and during the fermentation process to make and keep records of added sugars necessary to determine the amount of added sugars present in the finished food. The rule requires manufacturers of such foods to make and keep records of all relevant scientific data and information relied upon by the manufacturer that demonstrates the amount of added sugars in the food after fermentation and a narrative explaining why the data and information are sufficient to demonstrate the amount of added sugars declared in the finished food, provided the data and information used is specific to the type of fermented food manufactured.
Establishing a compliance date of 2 years after the final rule’s effective date (7/26/16), except that manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales have a compliance date of 3 years after the final rule’s effective date. (For more details, see part III.)
Compliance dates for brands with $10MM in sales is 7/26/18 & for brands with less than $10MM in sales as 7/26/19.
Example of where Added Sugars to be noted on label:
RECOMMENDED NARRATIVE TO KEEP WITH SCIENTIFIC RECORDS
Kombucha is a traditionally fermented beverage made of tea, sugar and SCOBY. Throughout the fermentation process, the sugar added at the beginning is consumed by the microorganisms in the SCOBY and is reduced over time in two ways. Cane sugar is sucrose, a disaccharide. Initially, the yeast split the sugar molecule into its monosaccharide components, fructose and glucose. Primarily, this results in a lower glycemic impact to the consumer because the complex carbohydrates are broken down into simpler sugars. Secondarily, the amount of sugar remaining is also reduced the longer the fermentation continues. The byproducts of this process are converted into organic acids giving Kombucha is unique flavor and properties.
Rev.120617 Approved KBI Board December 2017
Updated 022218 to clarify types of sugars that need to be classified as “Added Sugar”
Municipalities are eager to find new ways to fund their operations and programs. Lately it has been popular to enact a “sugar tax” on non-alcoholic beverages that exceed whatever threshold the municipality has deemed as acceptable. There is a long history of enacting “sin taxes” on products that are perceived or proven to have a negative impact on the health of consumers in an attempt to limit their behavior.
Kombucha is a traditional fermented beverage made from tea and sugar. During the fermentation process, most of the sugars are consumed by the microorganisms present in the SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) and converted into trace amounts of ethanol and organic acids. Each producer has their own fermentation process and method as well as their own flavor profile – some of which may skew sweeter in order to attract a certain type of consumer.
However, despite having some sugar present, the fermentation process materially changes the structure of the sugars – the disaccharide sucrose (table sugar) is broken into its monosaccharide components thus creating a lower glycemic impact. Also, the living organisms and nutrition in a living form (trace amounts of B vitamins, vitamin C, amino acids, etc) contribute a net positive effect to the consumer unlike comparable non-alcoholic beverages – i.e. sodas, energy drinks, juices, etc.
Moreover, many of these statutes include exemptions for products such as diet soda which, while their sugar content may be low, do contain known carcinogens. The unintended consequence is that products that are healthier end up taxed while less healthy options cost less and could influence consumer behavior in a negative way.
While KBI has been active in supporting its members who are dealing with these local statutes, ultimately, the decision whether or not to tax Kombucha falls to the cities themselves. Any taxes required are charged at the discretion of those locales and are not in any way under the purview of the Kombucha producer.
Jayabalan, Rasu, et al. “A review on kombucha tea—microbiology, composition, fermentation, beneficial effects, toxicity, and tea fungus.” Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety 13.4 (2014): 538-550.
Rev.090617 Adopted by KBI Board Oct 2017
Hill Climb Success!
(from L to R: Elixir, Funky Fresh, Golda, Humm, Craft, High Country, KBI, Health-Ade, Bootleg Bucha) On Wednesday, March 22nd, KBI members from around the United States converged in Washington DC to educate lawmakers about our growing industry and regulatory […]
Wednesday, 12th April 2017
(from L to R: Elixir, Funky Fresh, Golda, Humm, Craft, High Country, KBI, Health-Ade, Bootleg Bucha)
On Wednesday, March 22nd, KBI members from around the United States converged in Washington DC to educate lawmakers about our growing industry and regulatory needs. In total, 15 member brand attended 28 meetings with members of Congress and the Senate. After a long day on the Hill talking about the KOMBUCHA Act, everyone was invited to attend a Kombucha tasting reception on the Hill. We had a fantastic turn out as over 100 different Hill staffers came out to nosh and enjoy some booch (some were seen squirreling bottles away as they left!).
KBI hopes that this buzz will turn into additional bipartisan co-sponsor signatures for the bills in the House and the Senate. Since it deals specifically with updating the tax code, the goal is to include it in any bills that might be up for a vote on the issue of tax reform.
Thank you to those who attended the Hill Climb:
Aqua ViTea Kombucha (VT)
BAO Food & Drink (NJ)
Blue Ridge Bucha (VA)
Bootleg Bucha (NY)
Craft Kombucha (DC)
Elixir Kombucha (KY)
Funky Fresh (PA)
Golda Kombucha (GA)
GT’s Kombucha (CA)
Health-Ade Kombucha (CA)
High Country Kombucha (CO)
Holy Kombucha (TX)
Humm Kombucha (OR)
Ninja Kombucha (VA)
Sole Kombucha (PA)
WANT TO GET INVOLVED? HERE’S HOW:
Send your Congressperson and Senator an email requesting their support.
Invite your Congressperson/Senator to visit your facility when they are next in-state.
Traveling to DC or your state capitol? Set up a meeting with your Rep or Senator. Email KBI to get a copy of the talking points.
Stay tuned to the KBI newsletter for updates on how else you can be involved!
KBI Applauds Senators Wyden and Gardner, Congressmen Polis and Tipton for Introducing Legislation to Assist Kombucha Makers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 16, 2017 Hannah Crum, President Kombucha Brewers International 424-245-5867 email@example.com KBI Applauds Senators Wyden and Gardner, Congressmen Polis and Tipton for Introducing Legislation to Assist Kombucha Makers Los Angeles, CA – Hannah Crum, President of Kombucha Brewers International (KBI), released the following statement today after U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and […]
Wednesday, 12th April 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 16, 2017 Hannah Crum, President Kombucha Brewers International 424-245-5867 firstname.lastname@example.org KBI Applauds Senators Wyden and Gardner, Congressmen Polis and Tipton for Introducing Legislation to Assist Kombucha Makers Los Angeles, CA – Hannah Crum, President of Kombucha Brewers International (KBI), released the following statement today after U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) and Representatives Jared Polis (D-Colorado) and Scott Tipton (R-Colorado) introduced bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House, respectively, that would help kombucha brewers continue to grow, thrive and hire more workers by ensuring that kombucha products are not unfairly subject to the federal excise tax on beer under the Internal Revenue Code: “On behalf of the more than 250 kombucha brewers of which 150 that are members of KBI across the United States, I am extremely pleased that we have such strong advocates for our industry in the United States Congress,” said Crum. “Senators Wyden and Gardner and Representatives Polis and Tipton – and their staff members – are terrific champions for kombucha makers, and we are deeply appreciative of their efforts and work on this important legislation. They recognize that the law, relative to kombucha brewers, is outdated and needs to be changed, and they seized this opportunity to do so. We applaud them for focusing on this effort to help these small businesses.” Among other things, the legislation – the “Keeping Our Manufacturing from Being Unfairly Taxed while Championing Health Act,” or KOMBUCHA Act – would do the following: · Create an exception in the Internal Revenue Code’s definition of “brewer” for kombucha makers. · Provide an exemption to the federal excise tax imposed on beer for kombucha. · Define “kombucha” as a beverage that is “(A) is fermented solely by a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, (B) contains not more than 1.25 percent of alcohol by volume, (C) is sold or offered for sale as kombucha, and (D) is derived from – (i) sugar, malt or malt substitute, tea, or coffee, and (ii) not more than 20 percent of other wholesome ingredients.”
Kombucha – a combination of tea, sugar, water, and a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) – has trace amounts of alcohol that can trigger federal excise taxes under current law. The KOMBUCHA Act would increase the applicable alcohol-by-volume for kombucha from 0.5 percent to 1.25 percent. Kombucha would still have to meet the health and safety requirements generally applicable to nonalcoholic beverages. “This is good common-sense, pro-business, pro-consumer legislation,” said Crum. “We are looking forward to working with Senators Wyden and Gardner and Representatives Polis and Tipton to try to get this important bill enacted into law.” —- Kombucha Brewers International (KBI) is the international, non-profit trade association for the kombucha brewing industry. To learn more about the kombucha industry, or for more information on membership, please contact KBI President Hannah Crum at email@example.com or visit kombuchabrewers.org
KOMBUCHA ACT – Join the Effort!
We are thrilled to announce that the KOMBUCHA Act, a bill that would raise allowable ABV for kombucha to 1.25%, has been introduced in Congress!
On Weds Feb 15th, H.R. 1089 was introduced by Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO), Scott Tipton (R-CO), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Greg Walden (R-OR) in the House. The companion Senate bill, S. 389, was introduced by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Cory Gardner (R-CO).
The Congress Members above, who sponsored this bill and are advocating for our industry, understand that kombucha brewers are being unintentionally subject to the federal excise tax imposed on beer due to an outdated tax code. The KOMBUCHA Act would modernize the tax code so that kombucha brewers can continue to produce the raw, naturally fermented beverages that our consumers love, without being subject to excise taxes or regulations intended for the alcoholic beverage industry.
This is an exciting time for our industry, but in order to get this bill passed, we need your support!
What you can do to help:
Write an email to your Congress people (Senators and House Reps) asking them to co-sponsor the KOMBUCHA Act.
Invite your Congressional representatives to tour your facility, so that they feel connected to you.
Join us in DC on March 22 to hold in-person meetings and educate Congressional staffers about kombucha and our businesses.
We will provide template emails, your reps’ contact info, discounted hotel rates and logistics info for those wanting to come to DC, and anything more that makes your participation in this effort easier. Please reach out to Hannah or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or requests.
On Tuesday, March 15, KBI President Hannah Crum, Operations Administrator Morgan Meredith and several KBI member brewers met with representatives from Congress. Since Congress was in session, many sent staff aides and legislative assistants to meet with the group.
After the meeting, all of the members met individually or in small groups with legislative aides to share samples, educate about our industry and discuss regulatory concerns with the goal of uncovering potential solutions. They also discussed ways in which the industry can generate additional kombucha commerce in their states.
The legislative assistants listened intently to our concerns and offered helpful feedback for KBI’s future endeavors. Here are some of the ways members and non-member Kombucha companies can find additional resources:
-Contact each state regarding its own Value Added Producer grants for brewers
-Contact agriculture coalitions and boards in your state
In discussing strategies to create legislation to protect the industry, it was recommend that we:
-Connect with more brewery associations
-Connect with Congress members who sponsored the Cider Act
We are delighted to have taken this next step, and are already planning a more formal gathering for Congress members in September, coinciding with Natural Products Expo East.
Want to be more involved? Contact Morgan to find out how you can assist with government outreach.
We grow together!
KBI President Hannah Crum will be meeting with lawmakers at a round table discussion on Capitol Hill immediately following the AOAC Mid-Year meeting. The Congressional meet and greet will take place March 15th at the Congressional offices on the Hill.
March 15, 2016
402 Cannon House Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20515
As mentioned at KombuchaKon16, KBI is ramping up our grassroots lobbying efforts in order to connect with legislators who can help our industry navigate the governmental and regulatory landscape. First and foremost, will be to introduce kombucha to Congress! When Hannah was in DC for the TTB meeting in early February, she also stopped by several Congressional offices to share the KBI Fact Sheet. Not surprisingly, several of the receptionist interns hadn’t even heard of kombucha! So education is a primary focus for this first lobbying session.
In addition to bringing samples to share, we will also share Kombucha 101 to give a basic background on our product. Key to communicating the importance of our product will be founders stories because most member companies evolved out of specific health challenges that were overcome by consuming kombucha. We will also discuss the needs of our rapidly growing industry as well as share the regulatory challenges we’ve faced thus far and to discuss potential solutions.
Kombucha Brewers International expects approximately 12-20 Congressional aides at this meeting. Want one of them to be yours? Would you like your voice to be heard? Join Hannah in DC on March 15 & 16th to attend this session and to meet your Congressperson!
To participate, please drop an email to Morgan so we can include you and your Congressperson on the guest list. Also indicate if you are willing to bring samples and if you are available both days or just one. If we are not able to secure a room for the Roundtable (pending notice from our Congressional liaison), we will still be doing in person meetings on the Hill for those 2 days to spread the word about our industry.
On February 2nd, 2016, Hannah Crum, KBI President, met with several members of the TTB (Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau) to discuss the trace amounts of ethanol naturally produced by the kombucha fermentation process and what steps the industry is taking to ensure companies remain in compliance of the current legal threshold for taxation of .5% ABV (alcohol by volume). Talking points included discussing the agency’s desire for the industry to self-regulate, the ethanol testing standard being developed with the AOAC, and an informative discussion on the numerous techniques utilized by the industry to reduce alcohol in addition to refrigeration.
The hour-long meeting was yet another step in establishing a closer relationship with the TTB in light of the letters that were sent to a handful of KBI members in 2015. Since kombucha is not intended as an alcoholic product, the TTB stated that it has no desire to regulate kombucha and prefers that the industry do so on its own. KBI agreed that self-regulation, just as in every other industry, would be the best way to reduce potential mislabeling and product quality concerns. To that end, KBI has already developed a set of Best Practices for all kombucha brewers that relate not only to alcohol testing but also to sanitary and business practices.
While the TTB is a partner in the AOAC process, it also reiterated that its participation in the consensus-based standards development process did not guarantee adoption of the new testing standard once fully vetted. The TTB maintained that its current testing methods (distillation and densitometry), which have been in use for over 100 years and are used to test the ethanol content of all kinds of products including foods, additives and other ingredients, are sufficient for detecting even low levels of ethanol. However, the TTB representatives also acknowledged that any other testing method may also be utilized provided it is validated. KBI has submitted the current approved testing methodology with validation to the TTB.
TTB staff were glad to learn of the several techniques already utilized by the industry for controlling ethanol production in kombucha. These include filtration, dilution, culture selection based on organisms, and aeration in addition to insisting on cold storage throughout the supply chain handling. Moreover, kombucha often contains similar amounts of ethanol to juice, sodas, and energy drinks, especially in light of the fact that the flavorings for these products are often in an alcohol-based carrier.
Overall, the meeting was a huge success and confirmed that both the TTB and the kombucha industry have the same goals – safe, compliant products that adhere to Best Practices. After the meeting, several TTB staff offered assistance to KBI and the kombucha industry as we continue to develop appropriate controls and protocols while determining what methods of testing will provide accurate and repeatable results. With the measures KBI is taking both with AOAC and the Verification program, we are on the path of self-regulation.
On Sunday, September 27th, KBI president Hannah Crum and and Heath-Ade CEO Daina Trout, head of LGO committee (Special Projects Team) presented to the Stakeholder Panel on Strategic Food Analytical Methods (SPSFAM) at the annual conference of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC) to establish a new Working Group with the aim of developing a new testing standard for the low levels of ethanol in kombucha. Experts across various industries specializing in manufacturing, food chemistry, and laboratories were present as well as representatives from government organizations like the TTB.
Hannah and Daina shared with those in attendance the explosive growth in the kombucha industry while enumerating the difficulties with the testing methods in use by regulators in the US today. The message was clear: currently, an accurate, standard method of testing that takes into consideration the complexities of kombucha such as the strands of living culture, yeast bodies, organic acids, low pH and other factors simply does not exist. The Q & A was lively with questions, support and enthusiasm from the audience for this fascinating scientific problem and very much echoed that current methodologies need to be revised.
The stakeholder panel eagerly took up the process of formulating a Fitness for Purpose (FOP) statement. The FOP is ultimately the parameters that the Working Group will establish before sending out a request for methods to the international membership.
Fitness for Purpose statement: Methods need to accurately and precisely measure the ethanol concentrations to comply with alcohol and non-alcohol declarations in Kombucha in-process and finished products.
The Working Group will now proceed under co-chairs Hannah Crum and Sam Labonia of Cornerstone Labs. The goal is to hone in on the issues that will be necessary to take into consideration for determining accurate testing methods. KBI anticipates presenting the Standard Method Performance Requirements (SMPR®) to the SPSFAM Panel at the AOAC Midyear Meeting in March 2016 in Maryland. Since AOAC standards are in use by governments around the world, including the US, the TTB (Tax & Trade Bureau) has also been invited to participate in the process and are members of the Stakeholder Panel that will vote to determine the ultimate methodology that is selected.
The reaction from not only the stakeholders, but the general AOAC attendees was overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic about the direction of this research. Not only was the presentation very well received, the questions asked after were informed and thought-provoking. Overall, KBI is thrilled to get the opportunity to work with the AOAC to find a method of testing ethanol in kombucha that produces accurate, consistent, repeatable results. “The AOAC is pleased to be working with the kombucha industry, regulatory bodies, and other stakeholders to develop such a standard,” stated E. James Bradford, Ph.D., Executive Director of AOAC International.
The working group meets regularly (biweekly) to refine definitions and identify criteria for the SMPR®