This article first appeared on The Verge.
The idea of a bar is to take a cocktail or a beer and bring it to life, and that’s exactly what the US Food and Drug Administration says.
The agency, which oversees alcohol, beer, and tobacco, has created a task force to study whether bar owners should be required to provide their customers with beer and wine before they can purchase them.
The group released a report last year that said the agency has found that about 1 in 10 bars have no policy to allow customers to buy beer and only about 2 in 10 have no prohibition against it.
“This is a matter of basic public health and safety, and I think that the FDA is trying to make sure that the American public is aware that there are establishments that don’t want their customers drinking alcohol,” says Andrew Stapel, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for public health policy.
The group found that 2.6 percent of American bars have at least one policy against it, while nearly 5 percent of them have no such restrictions.
Stapels says the FDA has identified a number of places where bar owners don’t seem to understand that their patrons might be impaired by alcohol.
The problem stems from two main factors, he says.
The first is that many bar owners have no way of ensuring that customers who drink in their establishment aren’t impaired.
The second is that the people who serve them may not know how to make alcohol safe.
“The majority of people don’t have the knowledge or the skills to make a safe drink, and if you have a bar owner who is not well-trained in that, then you are going to be having a lot of bad outcomes,” Stap, who also served as a senior policy adviser at the FDA from 2016 to 2018, says.
Stap says the agency is now developing a new approach to ensure that people who drink alcohol have the skills they need to make it safe.
The agency says it will also require more transparency on how many bar managers it is hiring.
The FDA says it has hired about 400 people since it took office in 2014.