Director of Programs
Proof that right to know is a growing trend, beer makers will disclose ingredients used to make America’s favorite beverage. The Beer Institute (it sounds like a college for beer lovers but it’s actually the industry’s trade association) announced a new Brewers Voluntary Disclosure Initiative.
I am pleased to hear the news, not only because I’ve been a right to know advocate for almost a decade, but as the occasional beer drinker I want to know what’s in that bottle I’m sipping. Turns out it’s not just yeast and hops—artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, preservatives, and even foam enhancers (I know, ew) may be used in brew.
Hiding Behind Trade Secrets
Previously, brewers claimed trade secret protection for ingredients. No doubt public pressure influenced the creation of the brewers disclosure initiative and on their website the Institute states the “initiative provides consumers with meaningful information and will ultimately empower their decisions regarding the beverage they choose.”
Exactly. The purpose of ingredient disclosure, whether it’s beer, food, cosmetics, cleaning or personal care products, is to give us — the people buying and using the products — more power to avoid ingredients we may not want to use in our home, or put on or in our bodies.
So while I’ll raise a glass to toast this latest achievement for our right to know, we still have a long way to go towards giving the public the power they need to make informed decisions. There are many products, like cleaning and feminine care products, where ingredients like fragrance are still kept secret. Coincidentally (or not?) these products are mostly used by women (sad fact: women still do most of the cleaning in the home).
The good news is women are leading the charge for our right to know. We can choose companies that fully disclose ingredients and support policies that require disclosure. Because when we know, we have power. Now that’s something I can drink to.