Fermentation Fright: Ethanol in Non-Alcoholic Beverages

A study conducted by Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services has identified that 47 percent of brewed soft drinks, such as kefir, kombucha, and ginger beer are non-compliant with alcohol labelling requirements stipulated by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

The government study was conducted in 2017 and covered the states of Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania, and South Australia. For these brewed soft drinks to be classed as a non-alcoholic beverage, they must contain “no more than 1.15% alcohol by volume,” as stated by FSANZ’s Standard 2.6.2. Alarmingly, 20.8% of the fermented beverages sampled in the study contained alcohol contents greater than or equal to 1.15%, resulting in these drinks technically being classed as an alcoholic beverage despite not carrying the required labelling.

Although the national standard is stipulated by FSANZ, the states of Victoria, Queensland, and Tasmania consider any beverages containing greater than 0.5% alcohol by volume to be alcoholic. Therefore, FSANZ’s Standard 2.7.1 states that “for the labelling provisions, a statement of the alcohol content is required for an alcoholic beverage that contains 1.15% or less alcohol by volume; or a beverage that contains not less than 0.5% but not more than 1.15% alcohol by volume.”

The Department of Health and Human Services’ study found that 32.8% of the samples had between 0.5% and 1.15% ABV, meaning that over half of the brewed soft drink samples could not legally be sold in Victoria, Queensland, or Tasmania as non-alcoholic beverages, and would require alcohol content labelling in the remainder of Australia’s jurisdictions.

These findings have highlighted the need for analytical analysis of these beverages developed for the growing Australian brewed soft drink market.

Megazyme offers two high quality analytical solutions designed for low alcohol foods and beverages, K-ETOH and KETOHLQR. K-ETOH (Ethanol Assay Kit) is already widely used in the brewing industry, whilst K-ETOHLQR (Ethanol Assay Kit (Liquid Ready)) has recently been developed by Megazyme results in less interference from the environmental ethanol that is commonly associated with laboratories and accords with AOAC Method 2017.07.

Megazyme also offers other analytical kits for the determination of sugars, Yeast-Assimilable Nitrogen (YAN), and organic acids often found in brewed soft drinks such as kombucha and ginger beer.

Discover the full range at: deltagen.com.au/product-category/megazyme/

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