Researchers are looking into ways to minimize the harmful effects of alcohol consumption. Recently it was discovered that people who drink more than one drink a night are more likely to suffer from several different types of cancers including; esophageal, throat and mouth. In order to combat these deadly side effects of alcohol consumption some experts are considering the value in lowering the alcohol content in beer.
“The idea is that a small reduction in alcohol – such as beer with four percent ethanol content versus six percent – would reduce alcohol intake per drinker even if the same overall amount of beverage is consumed,” explained Jurgen Rehm, director of the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.
In addition to minimizing the risk of developing deadly cancers, the lower alcohol content would also likely decrease the amount of injuries and risky behaviors that an inebriated person can encounter.
Some critics point out that drinkers would notice the lowered alcohol content and consume more to make up for the difference. However, the researchers do not think this would happen. They point out experiments that showed that drinkers actually do not notice the lowered alcohol content. The evidence suggests that alcohol content cannot be determined by taste. This is important because the lowering of alcohol content would appear to not have a negative effect on alcohol companies. In fact, beer companies report their highest sales are from light beer, which an alcohol level of around 4.2%.
If drinkers are either unaware or not noticing of the drop in alcohol content, sales are unlikely to be affected. So, the proposal has the potential to benefit drinkers by keeping them healthier and less likely to commit risky behaviors. It also will allow alcohol manufacturers to continue to maintain profits.
As more research is conducted into the risks of heavy alcohol consumption it is becoming clear that decreased alcohol content for drinkers is important.
Any type of alcoholic beverage label contains the amount of alcohol within that bottle. This is done so that the consumer is aware of exactly what they are putting into their body and can make the most well informed decisions on how much to drink. The idea is that knowing the alcohol content of one’s drink will allow that person to predetermine how much they will be able to consume. However, it has been found that some wine companies are misrepresenting exactly how much alcohol is in their wine. This deception can prove dangerous by leading to over consumption of alcohol and can increase the likelihood that someone would make poor decisions because of an elevated amount of alcohol in their system.
Researchers at the University of California released their study to the Journal of Wine Economics after finding that alcohol content was actually, on average, 0.42% higher than reported on the labels. And while this type of discrepancy might not seem like a big problem, researchers are insistent that the misleading of consumers is not only unethical, but dangerous as well.
“A discrepancy of 0.4 percentage points might not seem large relative to an actual value of 13.6 per cent alcohol by volume, but even errors of this magnitude could lead consumers to underestimate the amount of alcohol they have consumed in ways that could have some consequences for their health and driving safety,” explained Professor Julian Alston, of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California.
In response to the study, some wine makers have admitted to altering the stated alcohol content on the label because they are trying to keep more in line with what consumers are expecting. According to the research, Spanish and Chilean wines were the biggest offenders in the red wine category, while American and Chilean wines were the biggest offenders in the white wine category.
Accurate and truthful labeling, especially when it comes to alcohol, is necessary to ensure that drinkers are given the proper opportunity to engage in safe alcohol consumption. Covertly decreasing the amount of stated alcohol content can lead some people to consume more alcohol than intended and set the drinker up for dangerous decision making and alcohol habits.
According to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Trade Bureau (TTB), kombucha is “a fermented beverage produced from a mixture of steeped tea and sugar, combined with a culture of yeast strains and bacteria. Some kombucha products also have fruit juice or other flavors added during production. The combination of sugar and yeast triggers fermentation, which may produce a kombucha with an alcohol content of 0.5% or more alcohol by volume.”
The popularity of this drink has exploded in recent years, especially in health food stores, and bottlers have been cashing in on the fad. A recent story broke that claimed the TTB had warned makers of the drink that are generating more than the allowable amount of alcohol.
Is there any real danger in that amount of alcohol, or is it just an arbitrary number? Good question, as it would take a very large volume to produce inebriation. However, it is good that the TTB is seeking to limit would could potentially be dangerous if some kombucha makers let their alcohol content rise much higher.
In a similar fashion as energy drinks that have alcohol content, if young people get their hands on beverages with borderline amounts, they can be abused and cause harm. While this would be exactly the opposite of the intent of kombucha makers, it is a very real possibility they have to be aware of if they let their alcohol content rise up above 1% or more (by comparison, light beer is usually about 4.5%).