Vitamin B beer?

Scottish officials remain interested, but brewer skeptical

Nov 18, 2002 - Officials in Scotland continue to investigate the benefits of vitamin-laced beer, but British brewers aren't excited about adding artificial ingredients to their beer.


As reported in February, Scottish ministers are impressed with research by Australian scientists that shows thiamin - Vitamin B1 - can help counter Wenicke's Encephalopathy, an alcohol-releatd disease found in the heaviest drinkers. They are considering asking brewers to introduce the vitamin into their products.

Thiamin is found in cereals, lean meats, dairy products, fruits and eggs. A shortage can cause headaches, anorexia, tiredness and a lack of balance.

The British Beer and Pub Association says adding the vitamin could change the taste and style of beers. "This particular additive would be designed to to help people who consume far too much alcohol," said Mark Hastings.

"They are extreme alcoholics. They should be discouraged from drinking at all," he added.

Mike Benner of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), pointed out there was evidence moderate amounts of alcohol had health benefits. "But this seems to be suggesting that putting thiamin in beer makes it acceptable to drink six or seven pints and it won't rot your brain," he said.

Some scientists are sceptical. Members of the scientific advisory committee on nutrition have raised questions about legal and labelling issues as well as practicality. And social critics say adding thiamin to alcohol would undermine health messages about the need for sensible drinking and reinforce complaints about the "nanny state."

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