It can come as a surprise that alcohol free beer contains a small amount of alcohol.
If you’re looking to completely avoid alcohol, you’d be right to think that skipping the alcohol free beer is the right thing to do. But it can be difficult to avoid alcohol completely because it’s in a lot of everyday food and drinks.
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We’ll have a look at why alcohol is present in many food and drinks, that are considered “non alcoholic”. We’ll also see which common foods and drinks contain alcohol, plus how much alcohol they contain.
Why Is There Alcohol in Many Foods & Drinks?
When we talk about alcohol in beer – including alcohol free beer. We’re talking about the process of ethanol fermentation.
This basically means yeasts convert sugars into ethanol (alcohol) and carbon dioxide. For brewers of beers under 0.5% ABV, the technique is either remove the alcohol from full strength beer or use a process that only produces small amounts of alcohol.
Ethanol fermentation is also used in producing many other foods, these include soy sauce, vinegar, and breads made with yeast.
Most producers of fermented food and drink will add yeast to kick-start fermentation. But, it is only in the last hundred years or so that people got to know how it works.
Spontaneous fermentation was relied on by brewers and bakers. Its where wild yeasts turn sugar into alcohol when the conditions are right.
Foods & Drinks That Contain Alcohol
Now we’ve talked about why there is alcohol in many foods and drinks. Let’s see which everyday foods and drinks contain alcohol.
In 2016, researchers at The University of Kaiserslautern in Germany look into this and published their results in the Analytical Toxicology Journal. The aim of the study was to identify how much alcohol (ethanol) people - especially children, are exposed to in everyday food and drink.
Foods That Contain Alcohol
- Rye Bread – contains up to 0.18% ABV (0.18g per 100g)
- Burger Rolls – contains up to 1.28% ABV (1.28g per 100g)
- Ripe Banana – contains up to 0.2% ABV (0.2g per 100g)
- Ripe Banana (with dark bits) – contains up to 0.4% ABV (0.4g per 100g)
- Ripe Pear – contains up to 00.4% ABV (00.4g per 100g)
- Cherry Yoghurt – contains up to 0.02% ABV (0.02g per 100g)
Drinks + Vinegar That Contain Alcohol
Note: this study looked into the amount of alcohol in drinks and vinegar, in grams per litre. This is because they didn’t specify the weight of each item (there, cannot know the exact ABV listed below).
- Apple Juice – contains up to 0.66g per litre
- Orange Juice – contains up to 0.76g per litre
- Grape Juice – contains up to 0.86g per litre
- White Wine Vinegar – contains up to 2.64g per litre
For a comparison, a 330ml bottle of 0.05% beer contains around 0.1g of alcohol.
The University of Kaiserslautern study on alcohol in everyday food and drink, has concluded that children are especially exposed to significant levels of alcohol in everyday food and drink.
However, the alcohol that is present in food and drink is still much lower than what is found in alcoholic drinks.