KALAMITea - Kombucha alcohol levels affecting mothers, infants and toddlers
Lorraine McIntyre, PhD
Presenter: Lorraine McIntyre (Food Safety Specialist with Environmental Health Services at the BC Centre for Disease Control)
Kombucha is a fermented tea considered to be a healthy alternative to sugary soda drinks but may contain residual alcohol from the multi-step fermentation process that converts sugar to alcohol. Alcohol (ethanol) levels in kombucha beverages from samples collected through-out BC were assessed for compliance with BC regulations (non-alcoholic beverages should contain <1% ABV). Ethanol was detected by head-space gas chromatography mass spectroscopy at the Natural Health Products laboratory at BCIT. In total, 684 samples from 53 producers were collected at 142 premises from retail, restaurant, processor, farmers’ markets and other locations. Overall, 31.5% of samples had ethanol levels that exceeded the regulations (the highest level was found in restaurant kombucha at 3.62% ABV). The final report contains recommendations for alcohol control during manufacture, refrigeration requirements and consumer label warnings.