Why don’t beer companies have to put the nutritional facts label on their bottles like soft drink companies do?
My wife and I have a few sayings at our house that we shout at the TV when fast food commercials come on, like this one: “That’s not food!” There’s one for Steak N’ Shake where they advertise 4 meals for under $4 each. These “meals” consisted of fried burgers on white bread with greasy fries and a sugary soda. Recently my wife sarcastically reprimanded the TV when she saw that commercial: “Yeah, because that’s a meal.”
As learned on one of our favorite documentaries ever, Food Inc., almost always nutritious food costs more than unhealthy food. Because unhealthy food (eaten for pleasure, mood enhancement, and/or convenience) isn’t really food. And that’s why we tend to say “that’s not food!” in our house when we see something that’s an imposter.
By all means, I’ve been tempted for months now by Pizza Hut’s “any pizza, any toppings, $10” special. What a deal. But I also know that just a few slices would max out my sodium, fat, and sugar for the day. If it seems to be too good of a deal, it probably isn’t food. I haven’t given in so far, and I’m beginning to think I won’t.
Last weekend my wife’s stomach was bothering her so I got her some ginger ale, which is supposed to be a good remedy. It worked. But the next day she was a little disappointed to see that an 8 ounce serving contains 24 grams of sugar (the health equivalent to smoking two cigarettes). So that got us to thinking about other sodas. Like dark colas and bright orange sodas. More sugar, more artificial coloring, and loads of caffeine.
Beer and alcohol virtually contain no sugar because it converts alcohol. I’m very cautious of eating or drinking things that I know were not consumed during Biblical times. Jesus and his disciples drank wine, not grape juice (which is full of sugar). They also didn’t drink sweat tea or chocolate milk, which often have much more sugar than soda.
Read “healthnutshell: A Tablespoon of Sugar or a Cigarette?”
And then the irony jumped out at us. For sodas, a person can look on the label to see the nutritional value (or lack of it, or degenerate value). But not for beer. Beer only contains 4 ingredients (which are all natural) and when compared side by side for nutrition which I’ll do in a minute, is actually healthy for an adult, whereas soda never can be because of its sugary nature.
Read “healthnutshell: Barley into Beer”
It’s funny to imagine all the foods and drinks with a nutritional facts label on them, though they have the opposition of nutrition in them. Yet drinking a beer or glass of wine a day is healthy for a person, but it’s not treated as food. With a little help from Yahoo Answers, I found out why. No big conspiracy, though.
1) Because alcohol is involved, beer is not regulated by the FDA. Alcoholic beverages are instead monitored by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and they don’t require nutritional labels for products.
2) In theory, all beer technically ever can be is the same four ingredients: water, yeast, barley, and hops. Beer is beer. It’s just brewed in different ways. There’s no wonder what’s inside the bottle, unlike soda.
3) General disinterest. There have been no complaint letters from people wanting to know the nutritional value of the beer they drink.
4) Technically there is no nutritional value. Like tea. Or water.
Here’s that side by side comparison:
12 oz. can of Coca Cola
Nutritional facts: 140 calories, 50 mg sodium, 39 grams of carbs, 39 grams of sugar
(over time is the equivalent of smoking 3.5 cigarettes)
Health benefits: none
Drug ingredient: caffeine
12 oz. bottle of Killian’s Irish Red
163 calories, 13 mg sodium, 13.8 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar
Health benefits: decreases risk of heart disease, improves bone density, flushes kidneys, reduces blood clotting
Drug ingredient: alcohol
They both have essentially the same number of calories. But Coke contains about 3.5 tablespoons of sugar and unknown, unnatural, and unpronounceable ingredients. Plus added caffeine, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Whereas Killian’s Irish Red has no sugar (it’s been naturally converted to alcohol) and contains only familiar, natural, and pronounceable ingredients. Plus several health benefits, and that’s obviously a good thing.
As I mentioned earlier, cheap food with little to no nutrition almost always costs less than food that is actually good for the human body:
Cost of a 12 pack of Cokes: around $4
Cost of a 6 pack of Killian’s: around $6
Granted, not everyone can handle alcohol. Whether they have a family history of alcoholism, an addictive personality, a lack of self-control, or a moral opposition (Baptist, Church of Christ, Mormon, Muslim, etc.). Fortunately, I don’t.
When I look at the comparison it’s pretty obvious which way I’m gonna go. I choose the healthy option. Knowing that too much of anything is never healthy. “Drinking responsibly” takes on a whole new meaning.
No matter how you look at it, choosing what to drink is a moral decision.
5 thoughts on “healthnutshell: That’s Not Food”
then why is there “light” beer? And why all the commercials about calories in beer? Answer that Mr. Writer!!!!
Dear Mr. Reader,
Thank you for such a creative question. Light beer has less alcohol (less than 3.5%) than regular beer (typically around 5%). Less alcohol means less calories and less flavor.
Just watched Food Inc. a couple weeks ago as well, really disturbing.
However, I’ve been on an organic diet for a couple months now, and found that most alcoholic beverages are also made with artificial ingredients (some quite nasty). Because these beverages are not under the FDA’s jurisdiction, there’s actually a lot they can get away with.
Fortunately, there are organic options, you just have to seek them out.
What’s in your beer?
Anything can be added to beer during brewing or after.
Wouldn’t you like to know what that is before you drink it?
There have been rumors that Budweiser is adding caffeine in some of their new products.
Quite possible without FDA labeling.
Great point. I would love to know myself.