500 YEARS GERMAN BEER PURITY LAW - SEARCHING FOR CONTAMINANTS

 

Uwe Oppermann1, Jan Knoop1, Anja Grüning1, Jürgen Schram2
Organization(s): 1: Shimadzu Europa GmbH, Duisburg, Germany; 2: University of applied sciences, Krefeld, Germany

Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in Europe. In Germany, beer enjoys a particularly high status due to the German Beer Purity Law of 1516 (the “Reinheitsgebot”), which uniquely defines the ingredients of beer to be hop, malt, yeast and water. This makes the German Beer Purity Law the oldest food law in the world, and makes beer, in addition to drinking water, one of the most researched food products with the highest standards regarding quality, freshness, appearance and flavor. Statistically, per capita beer consumption in European countries was 68 liters in 2013. For these levels of consumption, the question arises: just how healthy is beer and what does beer contain?

In accordance with the German Beer Purity Law of 1516, German beer contains the ingredients hops, malt, yeast and water, as well as all major B vitamins and bitter substances. In addition, beer contains minerals and trace elements (e.g. Ca, Na, Mg and Zn) that are important for human nutrition. However, undesirable substances such as pesticides and heavy metals (for instance Cd, Pb, Hg and As) are also found.

For simultaneous multi-element analysis, an atomic emission spectrometer with an inductively-coupled plasma like the ICPE-9820 with vertical minitorch position and ‘dual view’ (axial and radial) plasma observation has been used. This method enables the analysis of samples with low concentrations such as Pb, Cd, and Mn, and high concentrations such as Na, K, Ca and Mg within a single analysis sequence. Low level element concentrations of As, Se and Sb are analyzed using the ICPMS-2030 and last not least the analysis of pesticides such as glyphosate, which has been recently detected in German beers is done using the triple quadrupole LCMS-8050. Analytical results for a variety of beers are presented.

Uwe Oppermann