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Popular German Beers Found to Contain Just a Little Bit of Herbicide

Prost? Photo: Johannes Simon/Getty Images

A group in Germany has accused some of the country’s most popular breweries of committing crimes against the Reinheitsgebot. The eco-advocacy group Munich Environmental Institute says it ran tests on 14 beers and found the weed killer glyphosate in all of them. That chemical is used as an herbicide, and if it sounds familiar, that’s probably because the WHO thinks it “probably” causes cancer, and the FDA just announced plans to test food for traces of it.

The institute argues glyphosate has gotten too prevalent (it’s the planet’s most common herbicide), and since beer is Germany’s water, that likely seemed as good a place as any to make this point. Also, except for a couple of exceptions, Germany’s purity law limits beer to four simple ingredients (malt, hops, yeast, and water), and the level of glyphosate allowed in drinking water is capped at 0.1 micrograms per liter. But the report found as much as 29.74 micrograms in a beer made by the Anheuser-Busch–owned brand Hasseröder. The lowest amount was 0.46 micrograms in the Bavarian beer Augustiner, still almost five times too much. Beck’s had 0.5 micrograms, and a liter of Paulaner clocked in at 0.66 micrograms.

The breweries quickly rejected the findings. One industry group pointed out that someone would have to drink “around 1,000 liters of beer a day to ingest enough quantities to be harmful for health.” The German Brewers Association took the logical route, arguing glyphosate is safe because it’s “virtually everywhere” these days. So, basically: Don’t bug us unless there’s an epidemic of beer-gut teratomas.

[Deutsche Welle, NYDN]

Study Finds Weed Killer in 14 German Beers