Look at the label on alcohol-free beer

Look at the label on alcohol-free beer

ALCOHOL CONTENT: Some beers are less alcohol-free than others Photo credit: Pexels/Ketut Subiyanto

Brewers in the Netherlands are calling for uniform European rules and labelling for alcohol-free beer.

They say this would forestall unfair competition and prevent confusion regarding exactly how much alcohol an alcohol-free beer can contain.

In the Netherlands this is limited to just 0.1 per cent of alcohol, although alcohol-free wine can contain 0.5 per cent and anything above these levels and up to 1.2 per cent is described as “alcohol-poor.”

In contrast, Belgium and Germany are allowed to label beer with 0.5 per cent as alcohol-free while Spain and Italy go even further and an alcohol-free drink can contain 1 per cent in Spain and 1.2 per cent in Italy,

These imported beers are also on sale in the Netherlands where supermarkets sell them as alcohol-free although they can contain up to 1.2 per cent alcohol, which Dutch brewers maintain represents unfair competition.

According to EU rules, beer and wine containing 0.5 per cent of alcohol can be sold as non-alcoholic, and some Netherlands brewers are opting for the English term for products not eligible for the alcohol-free description.

“The labelling is misleading, particularly for people who don’t want to consume any alcohol at all,” Anne Lutgerink of the Voedingscentrum Healthy Eating Institute told the national broadcaster NOS.

“The terminology suggests something that is not true. It’s very confusing,” she said.

European regulations were confusing, Dutch brewers agreed, but added that they were not misleading as they kept scrupulously to the rules.

“But it’s in the consumers’ interest to know what is in the beer,” said Jos Oostendorp, chairman of Craft, which represents 200 small breweries.

A Netherlands Ministry of Health spokesman also said that people who cannot – or do not want – to drink alcohol should examine labels to check for the exact alcohol content or choose a 0.0 per cent variety to be on the safe side.

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Written by

Linda Hall

Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.