Beer is made from hops, water, yeast, and barley malt, right? Traditionally, yes. But in the world of industrialized food and drink, you can be sure that once in awhile there just might be a few other things in there. Like fish bladders. Yum.
There are of course other, more tame ingredients used, particularly in craft brews where you can find different spices, and sometimes even coffee. But it’s always good to know exactly what you’re eating and drinking. Concerned about the possibility of additives, food blogger and activist Vani Hari went on a quest to get big beer companies to disclose all the ingredients used in their beer-making process.
She launched an online petition for transparency from big beer companies, because as it turns out, no one but the beer manufacturer knows exactly what’s in their product; beer companies are not required by law to disclose their ingredients or brewing process.
As the petition stated:
Please provide a full list of ingredients for all your beer product lines on your website. As you know, the Treasury Department allows a laundry list of additives, stabilizers, and flavor enhancers in beer. Many of these ingredients are allergens or could be harmful.
Hari targeted Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors, the two largest beer brewers in the United States, and while it may seem intimidating to go up against companies like these, her work paid off. Within 24 hours, she had 43,000 signatures on her petition and Anheuser-Busch responded that it would post its ingredients online. That’s quite a feat. According to Salon, “the Center for Science in the Public Interest has been lobbying the government to require beer companies to list their ingredients — something they’re not currently required to do by law — for three decades.”
Currently the ingredients for Budweiser and Budlight are online, and they both have the usual suspects of beer ingredients: water, barley malt, hops and yeast. Both of them also contain rice.
But Hari is waiting on the release of the ingredients of all of the other beers in the Anheuser-Busch portfolio before she celebrates.
“I don’t think there’s any excuse for them to delay the listing of their other brands on their website, including the ingredients in Bud Light Lime which I was told contains high fructose corn syrup by their customer service representative after repeated inquiries and Stella Artois which reportedly contains caramel coloring,” Hari wrote.
Want to know what’s in your beer? Best to drink local. Fortunately, that might be getting easier, thanks to new regulation that has simplified the process of getting approval for new beers. Because let’s be honest, do we really want to live in a world where people are only drinking Bud?
Photo Credit: Grace Smith
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