A summary of the terms and rules around the claims of a drink being Non-alcoholic or Alcohol-free*
1. ABV% tells you how much alcohol is in a measure of a drink. The ABV % is defined as the number of MLS of pure alcohol found in 100ml of the drink. As an example, a bottle of wine may have 14% ABV, meaning in every 100mls, there are 14mls of pure alcohol ( ethanol).
2. Many of the new ‘alcohol-free’ drinks have 0.5% ABV on the label. WHY?
It is NZ and AUS law (and in most other countries). If a food or drink contains even 1.15%-0.5% ABV, it must be stated on the label ( that’s why you see it on Kombucha as an example). However, worth noting that some everyday foods & drinks ( such as ripe bananas, fruit juices, and even some bread) contain similar amounts and are not labeled.
3. If a product has less than 1.15%, it can be labeled low alcohol. If it has any more, it cannot. It must also include a warning for pregnant drinkers.
4. If a product contains ANY alcohol, it cannot officially be called Alcohol-free. However, the term is widely used unofficially, but not usually on fruit :)
To give some context:
Wine tends to have between 10.5%-15% ABV.
Spirits - 25%-90% ABV
Beer - 4%-6% ABV or more.
Angustouro Bitters contains 44.7% ABV. That is, if you were to drink 100mls, it would be 44.7% pure alcohol. A few drops in lime and soda would be way less than 0.5% ABV.
For my posts and coverage of 'Alcohol-free' drinks, I refer to anything that has 0.5% or less as ‘alcohol-free,’ but as far as possible, I always try to add the ABV% in the post too.
On a personal note:
After I quit drinking, I waited 3 months before trying anything that had alcohol, even Kombucha. Since then, I have found great joy in having ‘alcohol-free’ alternatives, I am not triggered, and I love that I can have the experience without the downsides.
BUT PLEASE NOTE:
Whilst some are comfortable and safe to drink ‘alcohol-free’ alternatives, they may not always be suitable. Some options do emulate the alcoholic versions & may give sensory cues that you could find triggering if you are battling addiction. In this case, fear not! There are some amazing completely alcohol-free options that do not try to ‘be like’ anything else, including:
If you are dealing with addiction or are concerned about your drinking, please visit the HELP page for safe places to make contact.
I hope you find this info helpful and reassuring.
*Information gathered from Food Standards Australia/NZ