Storing non-alcoholic beer at cold temperatures is vital to prevent bacterial growth, according to a recent study published in academic paper the Journal of Food Protection.
The researchers who conducted the study inoculated both no and low alcohol beer samples with five different strains of food-borne bacteria – E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria – and stored them at two temperatures (4C and 14C) over the course of 63 days.
The results reported that "nonalcoholic beers allowed for pathogen growth and survival, as opposed to the low-alcoholic ones", and stated that storage temperature is "critical" in preventing bacterial growth; strains of E.coli and Salmonella grew when stored at 14C, but no growth was detected when stored at 4C. Listeria growth was recorded "in all conditions tested" it stated. The paper did not, however, give guidelines or suggestions as to an optimum storage temperature for non-alcohol beers.
The research also focused on the effects of pH and ethanol concentration on the growth of foodborne pathogens in the beer samples.
The paper reported that previous studies of beers at alcohol levels of 3.5–5% ABV "inhibits the growth of foodborne pathogens" but that "nontraditional beer styles containing low, or no alcohol may be at risk to pathogen contamination and spoilage".
Alongside storing products at a cold temperature, the report said with increasing consumer demand in the no and low beer category, manufacturers should employ methods to prevent contamination, such as poor handling and cleaning practices.
It also stated equipment to dispense no and low alcohol beer served on draught, such as kegs and system tubing, must also be sanitized regularly to ensure no spoilage or bacterial growth.
Responding to the study, Narriman Looch, head of food safety and foodborne disease at the Food Standards Agency, said: "It is the responsibility of food businesses to ensure the safety and quality of the food and drink they place on the market.
"This piece of research contributes to industry's understanding in producing safe food for consumers. It will include setting appropriate durability dates and providing storage advice on the label to account for potential growth of micro-organisms to help ensure the final product is of the quality consumers would expect and is safe to drink."
The study comes as the no and low beer category is growing; British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said in the past year no and low beer sales have generated 23% more sales (£91m) in pubs than the previous year (£74m) and have more than doubled since 2019, when sales equated to £44m.
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