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Ethanol in non-alcoholic fermented beverages

On June 11, 2020, Health Canada published an information sheet for consumers on Ethanol in non-alcoholic fermented beverages. Fermented beverages such as kombucha, kefir and some soft drinks like ginger beer can contain low levels of ethanol (alcohol). Although these products are not made to be alcoholic, their ethanol content can vary depending on the fermentation process, distribution and storage conditions.

Companies selling fermented beverages are responsible for making sure their foods comply with all labelling and consumer protection requirements of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations and Food and Drug Regulations, as well as any provincial or territorial requirements.

Under the Food and Drugs Act and its regulations, beverages with 1.1% alcohol by volume (ABV) or greater are required to declare the alcohol content on the label.

Provinces and territories oversee the control, distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages in their own jurisdictions and may have additional requirements. For example, in most provinces and territories a beverage containing > 0.5% ABV would be considered to be an alcoholic product and subject to controlled sale.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) continues to support food businesses in complying with the regulations, and takes enforcement action when any food is not in compliance with applicable legislation. Labelling requirements for alcoholic beverages can be found on the CFIA's website.

If you have further questions contact your local CFIA office for more information.

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