Arsenic in German beer: the cause has been clarified

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Cause of arsenic in German beer clarified

Hops, malt, yeast and water, according to the German Purity Law, are the ingredients that may be contained in beer. It does not speak of arsenic. Nevertheless, it has been known for years that German beer contains traces of the toxin. The cause of this has now been discovered by Munich researchers.

Munich researchers discover cause of toxin
The amount of arsenic found in beer seems harmless to the human organism, but the concentration is often higher than in drinking water. The filter material diatomaceous earth was found to be the cause of the presence of the heavy metal in beer. Scientists at the Technical University of Munich have found this out over many years of research and presented their results at a chemist conference in New Orleans on Sunday. However, the brewing expert and head of the investigation, Mehmet Coelhan, explained that beer drinkers should not have to worry. A "much more real concern" is the risk of alcohol poisoning. The scientists have found that the solution can be found in the diatomaceous earth filters. These are used in beer brewing to filter out suspended matter and make beer crystal clear. However, not for all types, naturally cloudy beers are not filtered, for example.

140 beers tested For the tests, samples of 140 beers sold in Germany for traces of lead and arsenic have been tested in recent years. In addition, unwanted pollutants such as pesticides that could come from grain used for brewing were looked for. The German researchers found arsenic values ​​that were significantly above the WHO guideline value of ten micrograms per liter. While there is no such value for beer, the WHO has set one for drinking water.

Foreign beers also affected All the materials used for brewing were analyzed during the investigations. "The tests showed that some diatomaceous earth samples gave off arsenic," says Coelhan, the head of the investigation. Diatomaceous earth is a rock formed from bowls of primeval algae filtered with this method to get sick. Winemakers and other food manufacturers also use diatomaceous earth powder as a natural filter. Furthermore, in other studies, arsenic was also found in foreign beers, sometimes in higher concentrations than in German.

Arsenic content monitored for years After arsenic was detected in beer years ago, the German and Bavarian brewers' association started a program to monitor the arsenic content. The brewed beer as well as the raw materials and diatomaceous earth were examined regularly. Coelham said: "This will put diatomaceous earth suppliers under pressure" and "The breweries are sensitized - and they are also willing to spend money here." The arsenic content of the beers has decreased since the beginning of the investigations about three years ago.

Less pollutants Not only controls, but also very simple methods can help reduce pollutants, for example arsenic can be removed by rinsing the filter material with water. And substitutes could also be used. The managing director of the Bavarian Brewers' Association, Walter König, has already registered improvements. He explained: "We also monitor other heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium, which like traces of arsenic can get into the beer from the raw materials" and stated: "In contrast to the past months, the analyzes have not shown any excess values . "

Arsenic - poison and remedies Arsenic was known centuries ago and was used early on as a poison for murders, as a pesticide or as a medicine. At certain times it was probably used as an antipyretic, as a lung remedy, to improve performance and even as an aphrodisiac. Arsenic is still used in medicine, especially in cancer therapy. On the other hand, arsenic can also be fatal, even with a dose in the double-digit milligram range. Arsenic poisoning can lead to cramps, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea and even shock and kidney failure. (ad)

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