Everything in moderation.
Take beer, for example. A cold brew on a hot day can be refreshing and a nice way to wind down. No one will argue the danger of drinking too much at once or drinking too much every day.
But in moderation, beer isn’t lethal.
However, not all beers are created equal—and it’s not only a matter of taste.
Any mass-produced food has to be cost-effective to manufacture and sometimes quality of the result suffers.
Additives are put in some beers to create a particular flavor or color or prolong shelf life.
Unfortunately for the beer-drinking public, brewers don’t have to define all the ingredients on their labels so we don’t know why it tastes like it does. Following are popular brand-name beers that fall into that category and may make you think twice about partaking in a brewskie.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau regulates malt beverages (beer) and doesn’t require that companies disclose every ingredient; alcoholic beverages that don’t contain malt (which can include some beers) fall under the jurisdiction of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act when it comes to labelling and it doesn’t require full disclosure, either. So you can’t really know what’s in any alcoholic beverage sold in the United States. (1, 2)
- Artificial colors
- BPA (bisphenol A)
- Caramel color
- Dyes derived from insects
- Genetically-modified corn, corn syrup, and sugar
- High fructose corn syrup
- Fish bladder
- Monosodium glutamate
- “Natural” flavors
- Propylene glycol
It may be “The King of Beers” but you may also call it the King of Genetically-modified (GMO) Corn. Many studies have shown a correlation between GMO corn and liver and kidney failure, cancer, and death. Sadly, most of the corn grown in the United States is genetically modified. This is from Global Research – the Centre for Research on Globalization:
“Today, consumers are kept in the dark and are part of an uncontrolled, unregulated mass human experiment the results of which are unknown. Yet, the risks are enormous, it will take years to learn them, and when we finally know it’ll be too late to reverse the damage if it’s proved conclusively that genetically engineered foods harm human health as growing numbers of independent experts believe. Once GM seeds are introduced to an area, the genie is out of the bottle for keeps. There is nothing known to science today to reverse the contamination already spread over two-thirds of arable US farmland and heading everywhere unless checked…consumers eat these foods daily without knowing the potential health risks…Consider corn varieties engineered to produce a pesticidal protein called Bt-toxin. Farmers use it in spray form, and companies falsely claim it’s harmless to humans. In fact, people exposed to the spray develop allergic-type symptoms, mice ingesting Bt had powerful immune responses and abnormal and excessive cell growth, and a growing number of human and livestock illnesses are linked to Bt crops…Assuming they’re destroyed by our digestive system, as industry claims, is false. In fact, they may move from food into gut bacteria or internal organs, and consider the potential harm. If corn genes with Bt-toxin get into gut bacteria, our intestinal flora may become pesticide factories.” (3)
2. Corona Extra
Great TV ads but not great-for-you beer. Not only does Corona contain GMO corn but propylene glycol as well—a chemical used in anti-freeze. This is how it keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter…makes sense now.
Perhaps the world’s best-known stout currently contains isinglass—fish bladder. This isn’t a health concern, just a little gross. Isinglass has been used for centuries as a filtering agent for beer and wine. The Irish brewer has promised to remove this ingredient from its beloved drink some time this year:
“The news follows a longstanding campaign and several online petitions from beer-loving vegans, with many highlighting the fact Guinness and other breweries are not required to state the use of isinglass on the bottle.”[emphasis added] (4)
4. Miller Lite + Coors Light
It’s not really ever a good time for Miller. This light beer contains less alcohol than non-light beer so the tendency may be to drink more (maybe many more) than one.
What they don’t want to tell you is that there’s another reason you want more than one: it’s sweetened with (GM) corn syrup—sugars, including corn syrup, are addictive.
The irony of this statement by MillerCoors isn’t lost on us: “We also value transparency and are happy to comply with the request for additional information” and you can call them to ask what’s in the beer. (5) How is that transparent? Put the stuff on the label for true transparency.
5. Michelob Ultra
6. Newcastle Brown Ale
What makes it such an inviting, rich brown? Caramel color, the most common food colorant. It’s made by heating sugars, ammonia, and sulfites to caramelize them—it’s not a natural product.
When commercial caramel color is made, among its by-products are 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, which have been found to be carcinogenic. (6)
So bad are these chemicals that the Center for Science in the Public Interest has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban them:
“Carcinogenic colorings have no place in the food supply, especially considering that their only function is a cosmetic one. The FDA should act quickly to revoke its approval of caramel colorings made with ammonia.” (7)
7. Pabst Blue Ribbon
The first German beer introduced to North America and still a modest-budget favorite, PBR no longer adheres to the German Purity Law: corn syrup (GM) is used in its old-style formula. (8)
8. Other beers
The higher the alcohol content, the more sugar in the beer. If you’re concerned about your weight, avoid high-alcohol (high-sugar) beers. Beer alone doesn’t make you gain a lot of weight, sugar does.
If you’re reaching for a cold one, there are organic options that by definition are synthetic- and GMO-free. A local microbrewery might be more likely to tell you what’s in their beer and how it’s sourced.
GMO Free Beers:
- Wolaver’s – all beers
- Lamar Street – Whole Foods label (brewed by Goose Island)
- Bison – all beers
- Dogfish Head (organic when ingredients available)
- Fish Brewery Company – Fish Tale Ales
- Lakefront Brewery – Organic ESB
- Brooklyn – (organic when ingredients are available)
- Pinkus – all beers
- Samuel Smiths – Samuel Smiths Organic Ale
- Wychwood – Scarecrow Ale