Arsenic in Beer May Be Caused by Filtration

by | April 10, 2013 at 12:46 PM | Drink, Health

(iStockphoto)

Perhaps it’s time to switch over to cloudy hefeweizens?

By Jessica Chou, TheDailyMeal.com Editor

Similar to the arsenic in apple juice craziness that hit the media a while back, beer is now getting its arsenic inspection.

RELATED: Investigation Finds Arsenic Levels in Some Fruit Juices Higher than FDA Water Standards

Mehmet Coelhan, a researcher at the Technical University of Munich, reported that nearly 360 beers tested in Germany had some trace amounts of arsenic. And while arsenic is a natural substance that seems to pop up in water and apple juice, a few of those beers were found to have more than 25 parts per billion of arsenic.

The standard for drinking water in the States? Ten parts per billion.

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NPR reports that the source of arsenic seems to be the filtering process, which uses diatomaceous earth that contains iron and other metals. “The levels shouldn’t be alarming, because it’s the kind of thing you see in dust or air,” Roger Boulton, a professor at University of California, Davis, told NPR.

The same filtration process, NPR notes, is also used for wine, and while there seems to be no taste appeal for filtering wine or beer, there is definite visual appeal in a clear, cold brew, or a crisp glass of white wine.

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There aren’t many other options for filtration, NPR notes, as other methods affect the taste of the brews and wines more so than diatomaceous earth. And while this means maybe we should all try some cloudy brews, let’s note that the same arsenic scare occurred with apple juice, to no avail. While studies found 10 percent of apple juice to contain more arsenic than drinking water standards, the FDA claimed that “a risk to public health does not exist for apple juice. Unlike drinking water, the levels routinely found in apple juice are either not detectable or occur at very low levels.”

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.