A concerned client raced in to see us recently after their low-alcohol fermented juice drink had been ordered to be taken off shop shelves by the State Health Department. They produce a “healthy, partially-fermented juice product” that is purportedly low in alcohol. At least they thought they did – the Health Department begged to differ.
Apparently the Health Department were doing mystery shopper rounds of cafes in the city, buying fermented but low-alcohol drinks and then testing the alcohol content. Our poor client had made the assumption that their “healthy fermented beverage” was full of only good things and no nasties and so it couldn’t possibly be seen to be anything but good for you. As alcohol is one of the main by-products of juice fermentation (and we would argue good for you – in moderation of course), no matter the fruit source, it should have been tested to be sure of its content.
As we have previously advised, if you market a low-alcohol fermented drink it must have less than 0.5% alcohol. It can have up to 1.15% alcohol but if above 0.5% and below 1.15% an alcohol statement must be printed on the label.
Our client is reviewing their production process to find out how they can reduce the alcohol to be under the 0.5% alcohol limit as they don’t want to market the product with an alcohol statement. And as it is marketed as a “health drink” they also don’t want to add any preservatives. The production trials are ongoing – we suspect they will be for some time.
It is great to see such diversity in fermented beverages as it gives consumers such an amazing range of choices. It does appear though, that lots of folks making such brews are still learning some of the basics about fermentation and about some of the marvellous by-products of this amazing natural process.