Recently, regulations would require the beer industry to include allergens on their beer labels [National Post, Beer makers protest proposed allergy warning labels]:
Industry opposition is brewing over proposed health regulations that would require labels to warn that beer contains barley or wheat — a statement Canadian brewers liken to saying ketchup contains tomatoes.Well, that is kind of silly when it's put that way. Anybody that knows what goes into producing beer knows that beer contains those ingredients. And, you know it must be silly because of the claims of "nanny statism" in the comments - the right wingers are out with their pitchforks to protect MolsonCoors and InBev.
But, what is the real regulation [The Canadian Celiac Association, Health And Safety Of Millions Of Canadians At Stake Over A Beer? Celiac Association Urges Government To Pass Labelling Regulations]?
The beer industry has had ample time to plan for labelling changes. These new regulations will not require a warning statement, as they have stated, and beer will still retain its exemption from complete ingredient labelling, an exemption that the alcoholic beverage industry has enjoyed for decades. The only information they will be required to include on the beer label is the presence of sulphites (if over 10 ppm) and the gluten sources, wheat, barley and rye.The presence of sulphites? There might be sulphites in the beer? Hold up there. Sulphites are food preservatives used to extend the shelf-life of products. I, as a brewer, wouldn't want that information getting out that I add a food preservative to my clean, cold, spring-fed brew.
What can sulphites do to someone who is sulphite-sensitive [Health Canada, Sulphites - One of the nine most common food products causing severe adverse reactions]?
Although sulphites do not cause a true allergic reaction, sulphite-sensitive people may experience similar reactions as those with food allergies. Those who have asthma are most at risk to sulphite sensitivity and other forms of sulphite reactions.
When someone comes in contact with an allergen or sulphite, the symptoms of a reaction may develop quickly and rapidly progress from mild to severe. The most severe form of an allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis. Symptoms can include breathing difficulties, a drop in blood pressure or shock, which may result in loss of consciousness and even death. A person experiencing an allergic reaction may have any of the following symptoms:
People sensitive to sulphites would like to have that information disclosed, but no brewery wants to admit that they add an unnatural ingredient to their brew. Australia and New Zealand have regulations requiring food packagers put that information on the labels, so there is already precedent.
- Flushed face, hives or a rash, red and itchy skin
- Swelling of the eyes, face, lips, throat and tongue
- Trouble breathing, speaking or swallowing
- Anxiety, distress, faintness, paleness, sense of doom, weakness
- Cramps, diarrhea, vomiting
- A drop in blood pressure, rapid heart beat, loss of consciousness
It would be interesting to see if the brewery lobby would disclose whether or not they add sulphites to their beer.