What is in your can of beer?

beer ingredients


Before we get into what exactly is in beer that you should be worried about, let’s talk about how body reacts to alcohol in general.

Alcohol is metabolised by the body differently than all other calories you consume. Alcohol is one of the only substances that you consume that can permeate your digestive system and go straight into your bloodstream. It bypasses normal digestion and is absorbed into the body intact, where it goes straight into the liver.

Your liver is your main fat-burning organ. If you are trying to lose weight or even maintain your ideal weight, drinking alcohol is one of your worst enemies. The liver is going to metabolise alcohol first vs. the fat you want to get rid of making weight loss even harder. Additionally, one of the primary functions of the liver is to remove environmental toxins from your body if it is overtaxed with alcohol, the normal removal of these toxins becomes extremely diminished and can result in rapid ageing, loss of libido, and other diseases.

Milk Thistle is a great way to cleanse your liver.

When you drink beer, there is almost a 100% chance that you don’t know what you are drinking. The ingredients in beer are not required by law to be listed anywhere on the label and manufacturers have no legal obligation to disclose the ingredients. For regular beer, calorie levels and percent alcohol are optional and for light beer calories are mandatory but alcohol levels are optional.

Michele Simon, a public health lawyer, author of Appetite for Profit, and president of Eat Drink Politics told me the reason that beer companies don’t disclose ingredients is simple: they don’t have to.
I figured if the beer companies aren’t required to tell us the exact list of ingredients, I needed to investigate this for myself and asked them the pointed questions until I got the truth.

First of all, I was able to obtain a baseline list of legal additives allowed in beer from the book Chemicals Additives in Beer by the Centre of Science and Public Interest.

This list allowed me to ask specific questions about each beer I investigated. For example beer sold here in America can contain several of the following ingredients :

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) : alcohol is already addictive with some people, but with MSG?
Propylene Glycol : an ingredient found in anti-freeze, plastics, brake fluid, and electronic cigarettes
Calcium Disodium EDTA : made from formaldehyde, sodium cyanide, and Ethylenediamine
Many different types of sulphites and anti-microbial preservatives linked to allergies and asthma
Natural Flavours : can come from anything natural including a beavers anal gland
High Fructose Corn Syrup
GMO Sugars : Dextrose, Corn Syrup
Caramel Colouring : Class III or IV made from ammonia and classified as a carcinogen
FDC Blue 1 : Made from petroleum, linked to allergies, asthma and hyperactivity
FDC Red 40 : Made from petroleum, linked to allergies, asthma and hyperactivity
FDC Yellow 5 : Made from petroleum, linked to allergies, asthma and hyperactivity
Insect-Based Dyes : carmine derived from cochineal insects to colour their beer.
Animal Based Clarifier’s : Findings include isinglass (dried fish bladder), gelatine (from skin, connective tissue, and bones), and casein (found in milk)
Foam Control : Used for head retention; (glyceryl monostearate and pepsin are both potentially derived from animals)
BPA (Bisphenol A : is a component in many can liners and it may leach into the beer. BPA can mimic the female hormone estrogen and may affect sperm count, and other organ functions. (This is found as a coat of epoxy inside all tins of food and beer)

During my investigation, I couldn’t get a single mainstream beer company to share the full list of ingredients contained in their beer. But I did get some of them to fess up to the use of these ingredients in writing so Im going to share this information with you now.
Carcinogenic Caramel Colouring

Newcastle, a UK brand, confessed to using what I would consider one of the most controversial food additives. Toasted barley is usually what gives beer its golden or deep brown colour, however in this case, Newcastle beer is also coloured artificially with caramel colour. This caramel colouring is manufactured by heating ammonia and sulphites under high pressure, creating carcinogenic compounds. If beer companies were required by law to list the ingredients, Newcastle would likely have to have a cancer warning label under California law because it is a carcinogen proven to cause liver tumours, lung tumours, and thyroid tumours in rats and mice.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
Many of the beers I questioned contained one or more possible GMO ingredients.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (Guinness unable to provide an affidavit for non-GMO proof)
Corn syrup (Miller Light, Coors, Corona, Fosters, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Red Stripe)
Dextrose (Budweiser, Bud Light, Busch Light, Michelob Ultra)
Corn (Red Stripe, Miller Coors Brand, Anheuser-Busch Brands)

Most beers brewed commercially are made with more GMO corn than barley. Many of the companies I contacted dodged the GMO question however Miller Coors had a very forthcoming and honest response. They stated Corn syrup gives beer a milder and lighter-bodied flavour and Corn syrups may be derived from a mixture of corn (conventional and biotech) admitting their use of GMOs. Pabst Blue Ribbon responded saying their corn syrup was special and made of carbohydrates and some simple sugars like dextrose and maltose. The sugars are fermented into alcohol and CO2, and the carbohydrates, both from the corn syrup and the malt, remain in the beers as flavour, colour and body components

Dextrose and maltose can come from a variety of substances that are sweet, but likely are derived from GMO corn because it is super cheap for a company to use corn instead of fruit or other non-GMO sources. With cheap beer you are not just getting a cheap buzz, you are getting the worst of the worst. Just like with cheap fast food if you don’t invest in your beer you will be drinking a lower quality product like Pabst Blue Ribbon that is made from GMO Corn and Corn Syrup.

In 2007, Greenpeace found unapproved and experimental GMO Rice strain in Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser, Bud Light) beer. Anheuser-Busch responded saying their US-grown long-grained rice may have micro levels of a genetically engineered protein called Liberty Link, but added that the protein is substantially removed or destroyed during the brewing of beer sold domestically. Don’t you think it’s hard to trust any beer company that gets caught using experimental food made in a laboratory? GMOs have not been tested long term on human beings and one of the main pesticides (Roundup) they spray on GMO crops are linked to inflammation, cancer and other diseases

High Fructose Corn Syrup & Fish Bladders
Speaking of trusting companies, let’s get one thing straight, Guinness beer is no longer owned by the Irish, they are now owned by a large beer conglomerate called Diageo and manufactured in over 50 different countries. No matter how many St. Patty’s Day celebrations you’ve had with this dark stout, it’s time to stop because they use high fructose corn syrup in their beer. But, Guinness beer also contains isinglass, a gelatin-like substance produced from the swim bladder of a fish.

This ingredient helps remove any haziness solids, or yeast byproducts from the beer. Mmmmm fish bladder sounds delicious, doesn’t it? The sneaky thing this beer company does like many of the companies mentioned here today is create an illusion of using the best ingredients when in actuality what they tell you publicly on their websites is a complete farce. On Guinness FAQs they have a question that states: What are the key ingredients in Guinness and the answer doesn’t reveal the whole picture it only states Our key ingredients other than inspiration are roasted, malted barley, hops, yeast and water What BS, right? You have to call, email, question and know the right things to ask to even have a chance at getting the truth. This is insanity.

So What Beers Are Additive and GMO Free?
If you enjoy the occasional beer and wish to maintain your healthy lifestyle, choosing one without GMOs and additives is ideal. Unfortunately, most of the mainstream beers available have additives, but luckily, there are a few that don’t. For example, Sierra Nevada, Heineken, and Amstel Light appear to be pretty clean (but these companies still wouldn’t disclose the full list of ingredients to me. They did say they use non-GMO grains, no artificial ingredients, stabilisers or preservatives).

German Beers are also a good bet. The Germans are very serious about the purity of their beers and enacted a purity law called Reinheitsgebot that requires all German beers to be only produced with a core ingredient list of water, hops, yeast, malted barley or wheat. Advocates of German beers insist that they taste cleaner and some even claim they don’t suffer from hangovers as a result.

An obvious choice to consider is also Certified Organic Beers. They are required by law to not include GMOs and other harmful additives. Organic beers also support environmental friendly practices and reduce the amount of pesticides and toxins in our air, support organic farmers which is a huge plus. (To this day, the beer drinkers in my family haven’t found one they love so if you have suggestions, please let us know in the comments!)

For your reference, here are some important questions to ask your favourite beer company:
What are the ingredients in your beer all of them from start to finish?
Are any of your ingredients GMO?
Do you use any soy, corn, or rice processing ingredients? (Examples include: dextrose, corn syrup, etc.)
Do you add any natural, artificial flavours or colours to the beer? (Examples include:  yellow #5, caramel colouring, red #40, MSG, natural flavours)

Are there any additional preservatives, stabilisers and/or clarifying agents added to your beer during processing? (Examples include: propylene glycol, Calcium Disodium EDTA, anything ending in sulphite like sodium metabisulfite, Heptylparaben, isinglass)

Further Study
The Electronic Cigarette, Not Quite What You Think
Quitting Smoking, the facts

Tags : Alcohol, Beer Ingredients, Blood Stream, Chemicals in Beer, Commercial Beer, Liver, Liver Tumours, Lung Tumours, Thyroid Tumours