Do You Know What’s In Your Beer (and wine)?

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It’s Thanksgiving! In my world, this marks the official start of the “holiday season”.  During this time of holiday parties and increased alcohol consumption, I thought it would be timely to share some important information I recently learned about beer and wine.

Did you know that listing ingredients on beer labels is voluntary?  It is quite possible that in addition to the usual hops, barley, and yeast you would expect, your beer may also contain both toxic and genetically modified ingredients, including GMO corn syrup, GMO coloring and um, the swim bladder of fish, yes I said, fish bladder.  This is according to a report  by the Alliance for Natural Health Association.

If you would like to avoid toxic and GMO ingredients, you will want to avoid these beers:

Anheuser-Busch has corn; Budweiser, Bud Light, and Michelob Ultra all use dextrose, which is also made from corn; Coors, Corona, Foster’s, Miller Light, and Pabst use corn syrup; and Newcastle contains artificial caramel color.

Instead, choose European beers that do not contain these ingredients.  A few choices include Amstel Light, Heineken, and Sierra Nevada.  Locally made beer from microbreweries is typically a good choice as they are more open to listing what goes into their beer.  You can also buy certified organic beer which does not contain GMO and other unsafe ingredients.

For the wine drinkers, what I found is that there is some talk about GMO grapes, but of course there are no requirements for labeling GMO’s.  There was more mention of GMO yeast used to produce the wine.  My suggestion is to buy organic wine.

How come we can’t see what’s in our beer and wine? Well, food is regulated by the FDA, and requires a Nutrition Facts panel, but alcohol is regulated by the US Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Unless it’s beer made with something other than malted barley, and then it’s regulated by the FDA and must carry a Nutrition Facts panel. States also have their own regulations, which can supersede those of TTB, but not of the FDA.

Be warned, however that large beer companies are buying up microbreweries.  I learned that a large alcohol producer recently bought a long-time producer of a high-quality strain of brewer’s yeast and basically destroyed the strain.

I don’t share this information to be a downer.  I want to educate you so you know what you are putting in your body and can make more educated choices.  Enjoy your holidays and CHEERS!


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