A BC KalamiTea – kombucha alcohol levels affecting mothers, infants and toddlers
Kombucha is a mildly sweet and acidic beverage considered to be a healthy alternative to sugary soda drinks. It is popular in Canada and other countries, and in British Columbia and Ontario, locally produced and imported kombucha can be found for sale. Kombucha may contain residual alcohol from the multi-step fermentation process that converts sugar to alcohol. This session will review the public health significance of low levels of ethanol to the general population and to at risk groups. A British Columbia survey of kombucha products will be presented along with a discussion of issues such as lack of labelling to inform on handling, whether alcohol is present and compliance with liquor regulations (in British Columbia and Ontario, beverages with >1% alcohol by volume [ABV] are considered alcoholic).
Based on the survey results, some kombucha varieties do contain alcohol and do not have appropriate labelling to allow consumers to make an informed decision. Currently, British Columbia is working with multiple stakeholders to determine how to address this issue. A review of the developing discussion regarding the roles of Public Health Inspectors and the British Columbia Liquor and Cannabis Regulatory Board will be presented from a provincial viewpoint. Roles of federal partners, particularly in managing imported products and labelling issues, will also be addressed.