Tuesday, July 23, 2013

There is a Food Babe? Yes. And she has shocking info on big brand beer

The headline to this post was long enough to encompass most of the story, so let's get to it.  There is a person known as the Food Babe.  I know, right?  I guess I should have guessed that, but I still find it amusing.  Anyway, Food Babe has a website that talks about the food supply in America.  She has done some information gathering, some protesting, some rabble-rousing and is trying to get people to pay more attention to what is in the food we are all eating every day.

A few days ago she turned her attention to Big Beer with a post on the stuff she found in the major beer brands.  Not surprisingly, she had a hard time tracking down some of the information because big beer doesn't want to share their secrets.  They have lobbied against labeling for years and I guess we know why now.

Here is a list of what she found:
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) –  alcohol is already addictive with some people, but with MSG?! Holy smokes.
  • Propylene Glycol (an ingredient found in anti-freeze)
  • Calcium Disodium EDTA (made from formaldehyde, sodium cayanide, and Ethylenediamine)
  • Many different types of sulfites and anti-microbial preservatives (linked to allergies and asthma)
  • Natural Flavors (can come from anything natural including a beavers anal gland)
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • GMO Sugars – Dextrose, Corn Syrup
  • Caramel Coloring (Class III or IV made from ammonia and classified as a carcinogen)
  • FD&C Blue 1 (Made from petroleum, linked to allergies, asthma and hyperactivity)
  • FD&C Red 40 (Made from petroleum, linked to allergies, asthma and hyperactivity)
  • FD&C Yellow 5 (Made from petroleum, linked to allergies, asthma and hyperactivity)
  • Insect-Based Dyes: carmine derived from cochineal insects to color their beer.
  • Animal Based Clarifiers: Findings include isinglass (dried fish bladder), gelatin (from skin, connective tissue, and bones), and casein (found in milk)
  • Foam Control: Used for head retention; (glyceryl monostearate and pepsin are both potentially derived from animals)
  • BPA (Bisphenol A is a component in many can liners and it may leach into the beer. BPA can mimic the female hormone estrogen and may affect sperm count, and other organ functions.)
  • Carrageenan (linked to inflammation in digestive system, IBS and considered a carcinogen in some circumstances)

I don't know about you, but I find this list surprising.  Even after having been in this industry for more than a decade, I didn't really think about the fact that the big guys probably used the wonder of chemistry to make their products so identical and long-lasting. 

And, just to really clear, we don't use this stuff in our beer, nor do any microbreweries that I know of.  Most of our beers literally only use water, two-row malted barley, yeast and hops.  Our Huckleberry has actual Huckleberry juice added to it (not a chemical that tastes like Huckleberry, the way some bigger breweries replace fruit flavors) and our VB Stout has vanilla extract and a bourbon flavoring (since we can't pour a fifth of bourbon in the beer, the way we experimented with it 14 years ago).  I think it's a lot like the local bakery down the street versus the commercial bakery a state away.  The local person makes a product with actual food ingredients and no chemicals, so it is made to be consumed in a short period (the reason the "day old" bin exists, eh?) and it may not look pretty if it is exposed to heat, light or time.  The commercial product has "better living through chemistry" so that the product can be shipped, stored and be made as cheaply as possible.  There is a difference that you can taste in a fresh loaf of bread or cupcake, right?  Same with beer.

Thanks Food Babe, for promoting some stereotypes with your name while opening our eyes to some startling information.  Here is the link to the story: foodbabe.com/2013/07/17/the-shocking-ingredients-in-beer/

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