Ethanol in non-alcoholic fermented beverages
Fermentation is a natural process that turns sugars into ethyl alcohol, or ethanol (alcohol). For years, we have safely eaten fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut and sourdough bread.
We have also safely eaten foods such as fruit and fruit juices, which naturally contain low levels of ethanol.
Fermented non-alcoholic beverages, such as kombucha, kefir and some soft drinks like ginger beer, can contain low levels of ethanol. Although these products are not made to be alcoholic, their ethanol content can vary, depending on factors including:
- the fermentation process
- distribution and storage conditions
The Canadian Food and Drug Regulations require beverages containing 1.1% or greater ethanol (alcohol) by volume (ABV) to declare the alcohol content on the label.
Provinces and territories oversee control, distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages in their own jurisdictions. They may have added requirements.
The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that:
- you do not consume alcohol during pregnancy, or when planning a pregnancy
- youth should delay drinking alcohol as long as possible, at least until reaching the legal drinking age in their province or territory
What you can do to limit ethanol intake
If you buy non-alcoholic fermented beverages, refrigerate them to limit the fermentation process. Discard those that are past their best-before date.
Speak to your health care provider if you have questions or concerns about the ethanol content of non-alcoholic fermented drinks.
Contact manufacturers or sellers directly if you have questions about:
- the ethanol content of specific fermented beverage products
- their practices for reducing ethanol formation in their products
Report any food safety or labelling concerns to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. If you suspect that a fermented beverage product contains 1.1% or greater ABV and is not labelled accordingly, contact the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
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