Shocking Ingredients in Mass-Produced Beer

by Vins
Published: Updated:

Many mass-produced beers include genetically-modified (GM) ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, corn, potentially carcinogenic food coloring compounds, even monosodium glutamate, Bisphenol A (BPA), and propylene glycol, a component of anti-freeze. Such elements are prevalent in popular domestic brands produced by Miller, Coors, Anheuser-Busch, as well as imported varieties like Guinness, Newcastle, Foster’s and Red Stripe.

Consumers remain unaware of the ingredients of alcoholic beverages because wine, beer and liquor producers are not required to list product ingredients, only substances people might be sensitive to, such as sulfites, certain food colorings and aspartame.

Michele Simon, a public health lawyer, says that beer companies don’t disclose ingredients simply because they don’t have to. “Ingredient labeling on food products and non-alcoholic beverages is required by the Food and Drug Administration,” Simon explains. “But a whole other federal agency regulates beer, and not very well. The Department of Treasury–the same folks who collect your taxes–oversees alcoholic beverages. That probably explains why we know more about what’s in a can of Coke than a can of Bud. You can also thank the alcohol industry, which has lobbied for years against efforts to require ingredient labeling.”

Some beers, such as Sierra Nevada, Heineken and Amstel Light, don’t use GMOs. German brewers are also held to a purity law called “Reinheitsgebot,” requiring them to use only water, hops, yeast, malted barley or wheat.


Vani Hari, “The Shocking Ingredients in Beer,” Food Babe Blog, July 17, 2013,

Student Researcher: Sarah Suwak (Florida Atlantic University)
Faculty Evaluator: James F. Tracy (Florida Atlantic University)