Research and analysis

Published opinion on analytical tolerances for alcohol declarations

Government Chemist has drafted an opinion in answer to a query raised by a public analyst on a disagreement about correct tolerances on declared alcohol content

Documents

Draft Opinion Analytical tolerances applied to alcohol declarations

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Details

Background

The draft opinion published by the Government Chemist is in answer to a query raised by a public analyst on a disagreement between a producer of fruit based liqueurs and the public analyst about the correct tolerance to apply to their declared alcohol content. Alcoholic drinks above a certain strength must bear a declaration of their alcoholic strength. The declaration must be accurate within certain tolerances. Two options are available, either:

  • a tolerance of 1.5 % (absolute) which applies to alcoholic drinks containing macerated fruit or parts of plants, or

  • a tolerance of 0.3 % (absolute) which applies to other beverages containing more than 1.2 % by volume of alcohol.

For the reasons given in the document attached, it is considered that a tolerance of 0.3 % vol. absolute is appropriate for a filtered liqueur.

The case

An enquiry was received in August 2017 on tolerances we would apply to alcohol label declarations in a referee case. This draft response was circulated to give the parties involved an opportunity to comment. The opinion is not, of course, binding on any party but does give an indication of how we would regard the matter in a referee case and any expert testimony before the courts.

Alcoholic drinks above a certain strength must bear a declaration of their alcoholic strength. The declaration must be accurate within certain tolerances. Two options are available, either:

  • a tolerance of 1.5 % by volume (absolute) which applies to alcoholic drinks containing macerated fruit or parts of plants, or

  • a tolerance of 0.3 % by volume (absolute) which applies to any other beverages containing more than 1.2 % by volume of alcohol.

From information received, the drinks in question are made by steeping macerated fruit in alcohol for several months, the insoluble material is then filtered off so that the drinks do not contain any visible insoluble macerated fruit. Initially the public analyst assumed the product as sold contained fruit solids and applied a tolerance of 1.5 % by volume but on realising that it was a filtered product has been applying a 0.3% by volume tolerance. The producer maintains that a 1.5 % by volume tolerance is applicable because the drink is made using macerated fruit and still contains the soluble constituents of macerated fruit when sold. The attached document describes the reasons that form the basis for the final opinion.

The attached document remains a draft opinion subject to any further information coming to light; please contact Michael Walker, Michael.Walker@lgcgroup.com with any comments.

Published 19 December 2017