Dr Joanna explains the new nutrition labelling on beer.
ntil now, you had no way of knowing how many
kilojoules were in a bottle of beer. If you wanted to know
how many kilojoules or how much sugar was in your beer, you
would have to go online and research a dietary information site.
But that’s all about to change. The Lion group – with brands
including Hahn and Tooheys, and their partner company Kirin
– have announced that they’re introducing nutrition labelling in
Australia on all labels and the outer packaging (like the
cardboard container for a six-pack).
We’ve had nutrition labelling on our food and beverage packaging
for decades to help us make informed decisions on what we
consume. But for a long time, alcohol in Australia was somehow
exempt. Thankfully, the Lion Group has gotten with the times.
Sugar in beer: the myth
A myth has long suggested that beer is full of sugar, but it’s actually
not; and neither is wine for that matter. Alcohol requires the sugar
to be fermented in order to create it. In the case of beer, yeast is
used to ferment the sugar from malted barley, and sometimes
added cane sugar is used to create alcohol, while carbon dioxide
makes the bubbles in the beer. The end product, therefore, contains
very little sugar or other carbohydrates.
Low carb beer
So, what’s the deal with low carb beers? Well, really it’s beer
manufacturers buying into the carb-phobia that is rife at the
moment. If you saw beer labelled as ‘low fat’, you’d probably think
it was ridiculous, but confusion is abundant surrounding
carbohydrates in all alcoholic beverages.
When looking at the sugar content per 100ml of the entire
selection of beers produced by Lion you’ll see that the majority of
beers – whether labelled low carb or not – contain only around
0.1g of sugar per 100ml. The highest has 0.6g, which still only
means about 2g in a 330ml serve. The total amount of
carbohydrates range from 0.7g up to 3.9g per 100ml in a couple of
the pale ales, but most drinks fall to the lower end of the range.
In other words, neither the total of carbohydrates nor the sugar
content is the issue when it comes to beer. Rather, it’s the alcohol
that is providing the kilojoules.
Beer and weight control
If you enjoy a beer but are also watching your waistline then
choosing a lower strength (lower alcohol) beer is a more effective
method than choosing a low carb beer. The Lion beers range from
as low as 99kJ/100ml for Hahn Super Dry 3.5 (the name depicting
the alcohol content of 3.5 per cent) to as high as 221kJ/100ml for
Little Creatures IPA (with an alcohol content of 6.4 per cent) –
that’s more than a two-fold difference.
The new labelling
Hats off to Lion for this initiative and the fact that they have been
working with an advisory board of independent experts including a
dietitian, a GP, an exercise scientist and a fitness expert. This means
that you’ll be able to see, at a glance, the necessary information to
help you make an informed choice about your beer so you can know
exactly what you’re drinking and drink responsibly. N
To find out more about this initiative click here.
DR JOANNA MCMILLAN, PHD APD
Learn more at: website | profile
Accredited Practising Dietitian Dr Joanna McMillan’s ever-growing following is the result of her high profile within the
media, health and fitness industries, and through her roles as Vice President of the Australian Lifestyle Medicine
Association (ALMA), Ambassador for Diabetes Australia, and Ambassador for Australian Pineapples (to name a few).