Food

Published on April 8th, 2013 | by James Ayre

1

Arsenic In Your Beer? Commonly Used Filtering Material Source Of Contamination

April 8th, 2013 by

Elevated arsenic levels have been detected in some brands of beer sold in Germany in recent years, but the cause has remained somewhat unclear, until now. New research from the Technische Universität in Munich appears to have found the cause, a commonly-used filtering material, diatomaceous earth.

20130408-021726.jpg

“Mehmet Coelhan, Ph.D., and colleagues said the discovery could be of importance for breweries and other food processors elsewhere that use the same filtering technology implicated in the elevated arsenic levels in some German beers. Coelhan’s team at the Technische Universität in Munich set out to solve that riddle after testing 140 samples of beers sold in Germany as part of a monitoring program. The monitoring checked levels of heavy metals like arsenic and lead, as well as natural toxins that can contaminate grain used in brewing beer, pesticides and other undesirable substances.”

Coelhan stated that the World Health Organization has determined that 10 micrograms per liter of arsenic in drinking water is the “safe” limit. But some beers, in recent years, have tested higher than that.

“When arsenic level in beer is higher than in the water used during brewing, this excess arsenic must come from other sources,” Coelhan noted. “That was a mystery to us. As a consequence, we analyzed all materials, including the malt and the hops used during brewing for the presence of arsenic.”


“They concluded that the arsenic was released into the beer from a filtering material called kieselguhr, or diatomaceous earth, used to remove yeast, hops and other particles and give the beer a crystal clear appearance. Diatomaceous earth consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae that lived millions of years ago. It finds wide use in filtering beer, wine and is an ingredient in other products.”

“We concluded that kieselguhr may be a significant source of arsenic contamination in beer,” Coelhan said. “This conclusion was supported by analysis of kieselguhr samples. These tests revealed that some kieselguhr samples release arsenic. The resulting arsenic levels were only slightly elevated, and it is not likely that people would get sick from drinking beers made with this filtration method because of the arsenic. The arsenic is still at low levels — the risk of alcohol poisoning is a far more realistic concern, as stated in previous studies on the topic.”

“Coelhan pointed out that beers produced in at least six other countries had higher arsenic amounts than German beers, according to a report published four years ago. He said that breweries, wineries and other food processors that use kieselguhr should be aware that the substance can release arsenic. Substitutes for kieselguhr are available, he noted, and simple measures like washing kieselguhr with water can remove the arsenic before use.”

Image Credit: Mehmet Coelhan, Ph.D

Keep up to date with all the most interesting green news on the planet by subscribing to our (free) Planetsave newsletter.





Tags: , , , , , , ,


About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • Flip Snap

    Don’t worry about this kind of things. Make your own beer at home and enjoy it without worrying! http://bit.ly/13fnUcH

Back to Top ↑