Metals in select beers commercially available in the US: Unmonitored sources of concerning exposure

Jasmina Markovski, Milos Markovski, Branislav Knezevic, Kiril D. Hristovski


Stemming from the need to inform US consumers about the potential health hazards originating from regulatory deficiencies and an inadequate capacity to conduct the complete screening of beverage products entering the US, this study aimed to answer two questions: (1) how do concerning metal concentrations of beers imported to the US market compare to those in US produced beers; and (2) do imported and domestic beers exhibit concerning metal concentrations below the existing US primary drinking water standards. To address this aim: (1) beers manufactured worldwide, which were commercially available on the US market were obtained; (2) the concentration of concerning metals in the beers was analyzed; and (3) data were examined and correlated to explore any US maximum contaminant level (MCL) exceedances and determine whether geographic or grain-related trends exist. The results showed that there are no significant differences between the concerning metal concentrations of imported vs. domestic beers in the US market. Some specific heavy metals, like arsenic, are present in both imported and domestic beers in concentrations that exceed the national primary drinking water standards MCLs. Although water quality may be a factor contributing to the elevated concentrations of concerning metals in beers, it is more likely that the grain ingredients are greater contributors to the observed trends.


heavy metals; beer;

Full Text:



C. F. Chau, S. H. Wu, G. C. Yen, The development of regulations for food nanotechnology, Trends Food Sci. Technol. 18, 269–280 (2007).


R. Skaggs, C. Falk, J. Almonte, M. Cdrdenas, Product-Country Images and International Food Marketing: Re-lationships and Research Needs, Agribusiness 12(6), 593–600 (1996).

DOI: 12:6<593::AID-AGR8>3.0.CO;2-Z

T. A. Hemphill, Globalization of the U.S. Food supply: reconciling product safety regulation with free trade, Bus. Econ. 44(3), 154–168 (2009).


US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish (1990–2012), 2017, Cited 2018 July 06. Available from:

J. S. Jothi, M. B. Uddin, Detection of heavy metals in some commercial brands of noodles, Eur. Acad. Res. 2(8), 10667–10679 (2014).

N. A. Al-Dhabi, Heavy metal analysis in commercial Spirulina products for human consumption, Saudi J. Biol. Sci., 20, 383–388 (2013).


New earth, More than half of baby food products con-taminated with toxic heavy metals, 2017, Cited 2018 July 06. Available from:

D. Wilson, C. Hooper, X. Shi, Arsenic and lead in juice: apple, citrus and apple-base, J. Environ. Health, 75(5) 14–21 (2012).

J. Roberge, A. T. Abalos, J. M. Skinner, M. Kopplin, R. B. Harris, Presence of arsenic in commercial beverages, Am. J. Environ. Sci. 5(6), 688–694 (2009).

T. Hague, A. Petroczi, P. L. R. Andrews, J. Barker, D. P. Naughton, Determination of metal ion content of bever-ages and estimation of target hazard quotients: a com-parative study, Chem. Cent. J. 2(13), 1–9 (2008).

DOI: 10.1186/1752-153X-2-13

S. S. Al-Oud, Heavy metal contents in tea and herb leaves, Pak. J. Bio. Sci. 6(3), 208–2012 (2003).

C. M. A. Iwegbue, S. O. Nwozo, E. K. Ossai, G. E. Nwajei, Heavy metal composition of some imported canned fruit drinks in Nigeria, Am. J. Food Technol. 3, 220–223 (2008). DOI: 10.3923/ajft.2008.220.223

D. Thompson, How America Drinks: Water and Wine Surge, Cheap Beer and Soda Crash, 2013, Cited 2018 July 06. Available from: surge-cheap-beer-and-soda-crash/267153/

J. C. Barefoot, M. Grønbæk, J. R Feaganes, R. S. McPherson, R. B. Williams, I. C Siegler, Alcoholic bev-erage preference, diet, and health habits in the UNC Alumni Heart Study, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 76(2), 466–472 (2002).

The Beer Institute, Brewers Almanac, Beer consumption by country, 2013. Cited 2018, April 11, Available from:

Dietary Guideline for Americans 2015–2020, Appendix 9. Alcohol. Cited 2018 September 5. Available from:

G. Donadini, S. Spalla, G. M. Beone, Arsenic, cadmium and lead in beers from the Italian market, J. Inst. Brew., 114(4), 283–288 (2008).


J. G. Ibanez, A. Carreon-Alvarez, M. Barcena-Soto, N. Casillas, Metals in alcoholic beverages: A review of sources, effects, concentrations, removal, speciation, and analysis, J. Food Compos. Anal., 21, 672– 683 (2008). DOI:

D. González-Weller, C. Rubio, Á. J. Gutiérrez, G. L. González, J. M. C. Mesa, C. R. Gironés, A. B. Ojeda, A. Hardisson, Dietary intake of barium, bismuth, chromium, lithium, and strontium in a Spanish population (Canary Islands, Spain), Food Chem. Toxicol., 62, 856–868 (2013). DOI:

B. V. Tangahu, S. R. S. Abdullah, H. Basri, M. Idris, N. Anuar, M. Mukhlisin, A Review on heavy metals (As, Pb and Hg) uptake by plants through phytoremediation, Int. J. Chem. Eng., 2011, 1–31 (2011).


C. LaCoste, B. Robinson, R. Brooks, Uptake of thallium by vegetables: Its significance for human health, phy-toremediation, and phytomining, J. Plant Nutr., 24(8), 1205–1215 (2001).


V. Antoniadis, E. Levizou, S. M. Shaheen, Y. Sik Ok, A. Sebastian, C. Baum, M. N. V. Prasad, W. W. Wenzel, J. Rinkleb, Trace elements in the soil-plant interface: Phytoavailability, translocation, and phytoremediation – A review, Earth-Sci. Rev. 171, 621–645 (2017). DOI:

US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Arsenic in Rice and Rice Products, 2016. Cited 2018 April 11, Available from:

Consumer Reports, FDA data show arsenic in rice, juice, and beer: Here’s an overview of some significant devel-opments regarding arsenic in food in the last year, 2014. Cited 2018 April 11. Available from:

T. Goldammer, The Brewer's Handbook A Complete Book to Brewing Beer, APEX Publisher, 2nd Edition, 2008. Cited 2018 April 11. Available from:

Ansamed, Islam: Survey, alcohol use in Mideast-Africa +25 % in 5 years, 2011. Cited 2018 April 11. Available from:

The Beer Institute, Economic Impact, 2017. Cited 2018 July 06. Available from:

D. Richey, B. Watson, California Craft Brewing, Eco-nomic Impact Report, 2013. Cited 2018 July 06. Availa-ble from:

M. Pigłowski, Heavy Metals in notifications of rapid alert system for food and feed, Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 15, 1–13 (2018).


C. Reilly, Metal Contamination of Food: Its Significance for Food Quality and Human Health, 3rd edition, Blackwell Science Ltd, MA, USA, 2002.

US Department of the Treasury, Beer Laws, Regulations, and Public Guidance, n.d. Cited 2018 April 11. Available from:

K. R. Henke, Arsenic: Environmental Chemistry, Health Threats and Waste Treatment, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., USA, 2009.

US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), Meth-od 3050B, Acid Digestion of sediments, sludges, and soils, 1996. Cited 2018 July 06. Available from:

C. M. A. Iwegbue, L. C. Overah, F. I. Bassey, B. S. Martincigh, Trace metal concentrations in distilled alco-holic beverages and liquors in Nigeria, J. Inst. Brew. 120, 521–528 (2014).


A. Alcázar, F. Pablos, Ma. J. Martı́n, A. G. González, Multivariate characterization of beers according to their mineral content, Talanta, 57, 45–52 (2002).


S. T. Eshghi, X. Li, H. Zhang, Targeted Analyte Detec-tion by Standard Addition Improves Detection Limits in MALDI Mass Spectrometry, Anal Chem., 84(18), 7626–7632 (2012). DOI: 10.1021/ac301423f

A. Tyburska, K. Jankowski, A. Ramsza, E. Reszke, M. Strzelec, A. Andrzejczuk, Feasibility study of the deter-mination of selenium, antimony and arsenic in drinking and mineral water by ICP-OES using a dual-flow ultra-sonic nebulizer and direct hydride generation, J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 25, 210–214 (2010).

DOI: 10.1039/B916729C

US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), Drink-ing Water Contaminants – Standards and Regulations, n.d. Cited 2018 July 06. Available from:

S. Rodrigo, S. D. Young, M. I. Talaverano, M. R. Broadley, The influence of style and origin on mineral composition of beers retailing in the UK, Eur. Food Res. Technol. 243, 931–939 (2017).


M. Coelhan, Widely used filtering material adds arsenic to beers, 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, New Orleans, 2013.

E. S. Reynolds, An account of the epidemic outbreak of arsenical poisoning occurring in beer drinkers in the north of England and the midland counties in 1900, Lancet, 157(4038), 166–170 (1901).

S. Rodrigo, S. D. Young, D. Cook, S. Wilkinson, S. Clegg, E. H. Bailey, A. W. Mathers, M. R. Broadley, Se-lenium in commercial beer and losses in the brewing pro-cess from wheat to beer, Food Chem., 182, 9–13 (2015). DOI:

H. Matusiewicz, M. Mikołajczak, Determination of As, Sb, Se, Sn and Hg in beer and wort by direct hydride generation sample introduction−electrothermal AAS, J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 16, 652–657 (2001).

DOI: 10.1039/B100312G

N. Altunay, R. Gürkan, A new cloud point extraction procedure for determination of inorganic antimony species in beverages and biological samples by flame atomic absorption spectrometry, Food Chem., 175, 507–515 (2015).


C. Hansen, A. Tsirigotaki, S. A. Bak, S. A. Pergantis, S. Stürup, B. Gammelgaard, H. R. Hansen, Elevated anti-mony concentrations in commercial juices, J. Environ. Monit., 12, 822–824 (2010). DOI: 10.1039/B926551A

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), Toxicological Profile for Antimony and Compounds, Draft for Public Comment, 2017. Cited 2018 July 06. Available from:

C. M. Mena, C. Cabrera, M. L. Lorenzo, M. C. Lopez, Determination of lead contamination in Spanish wines and other alcoholic beverages by flow injection atomic absorption spectrometry, J. Agric. Food Chem. 45(5), 1812–1815 (1997). DOI: 10.1021/jf960761e

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), Toxicological Profile for Lead, 2007. Cited 2018 July 06. Available from:, 2007

N. C Papanikolaou, E. G. Hatzidaki, S. Belivanis, G. N. Tzanakakis, A. M Tsatsakis, Lead toxicity update. A brief review, Med. Sci. Monit. 11(10), 329–336 (2005).

B. Wyrzykowska, K. Szymczyk, H. Ichichashi, J. Falandysz, B. Skwarzec, S. Yamasaki, Application of ICP sector field MS and principal component analysis for studying interdependences among 23 trace elements in Polish beers, J. Agric. Food Chem., 49, 3425–3431 (2001). DOI: 10.1021/jf010184g

Bureau of Indian Standards (IS), Draft Indian Standard, Drinking Water Specification, Second Revision of IS 10500, ICS No. 13.060.20, Doc: FAD 25(2047)C, 2009.

P. Szefer, J. O. Nriagu, Mineral Components in Foods, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 2007.

F. F. Lopez, C. Cabrera, M. L. Lorenzo, M. C. Lopez, Aluminium levels in wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages consumed in Spain, Sci. Total Environ., 220 1–9 (1998). DOI:

J. X. Liu, G. F. Nordberg, Nephrotoxicities of Alumini-um and/or CadmiumMetallothionein in Rats: Creatinine Excretion and Metabolism of Selected Essential Metals, Pharmacol. Toxicol., 77, 155–160 (1995).


E. Storey, C. L. Masters, Amyloid, aluminium and the aetiology of Alzheimer’s disease, Med. J. of Aust., 163, 256–259 (1995).

J. R. Porter, C. W. Bamforth, Manganese in brewing raw materials, disposition during the brewing process and impact on the flavor instability of beer, J. Am. Soc. Brew. Chem., 74(2) (2016).


S. C. Izah, I. R. Inyang, T. C. N. Angaye, I. P. Okowa, A Review of heavy metal concentration and potential health implications of beverages consumed in Nigeria, Toxics, 5(1), 1–15 (2017). DOI:10.3390/toxics5010001

E. Budman, R. R. Sizelove, Zinc alloy plating. Metal Finish., 98, 334–339 (2000).

C. Reilly, Heavy metal contamination in home–produced beer and spirits, Ecol. Food Nutr., 2, 43– 47 (1973).


Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), Public Health Statement for Silver. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, 1900.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), Public Health Statement. Toxicological profile for vanadium. (Draft for Public Comment). Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, 2009.

R. Wuilloud, E. Marchevsky, R. Olsina, L. Martinez, Rapid and simple method for the determination of vana-dium in beer by ICP AES with ultrasonic nebulization, J. Anal. Chem., 56, 77–80 (2001).


C. Minoia, E. Sabbioni, A. Ronchi, A. Gatti, R. Pietra, A. Nicolotti, S. Fortaner, C. Balducci, A. Fonte, C. Roggi, Trace element reference values in tissues from inhabitants of the European community. IV. Influence of dietary factors, Sci. Total Environ., 141, 181–195 (1994). DOI:

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Vanadium pentoxide: Possibly carcinogenic to humans, 2011. Cited 2018 April 11. Available from:

T. Wällstedt; L. Björkvald; J. P. Gustafsson, Increasing concentrations of arsenic and vanadium in (southern) Swedish streams, Appl. Geochem. 25(8), 1162–1175 (2010). DOI:

T. Burke, W. M. Mayes, C. L. Peacock, A. P. Brown, A. P. Jarvis, K. Gruiz, Speciation of arsenic, chromium, and vanadium in red mud samples from the Ajka Spill Site, Hungary, Environ. Sci. Technol. 46, 3085−3092 (2012). DOI: 10.1021/es3003475

R. Tuli, D. Chakrabarty, P. K. Trivedi, R. D. Tripathi, Recent advances in arsenic accumulation and metabolism in rice, Mol. Breeding 26(2), 307–323 (2010).


C. Potera, U. S. rice serves up arsenic, Environ. Health Persp. 115(6), 296–299 (2007).

J.-H. Huang, K.-N. Hu, J. Ilgen, G. Ilgen, Occurrence and stability of inorganic and organic arsenic species in wines, rice wines and beers from Central European mar-ket, Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A, 29(1), 85–93 (2012).


C. A. Blanco, D. Sancho, I. Caballero, Aluminium con-tent in beers and silicon sequestering effects, Food Res. Int. 43, 2432–2436 (2010).




  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2018 Jasmina Markovski, Milos Markovski, Branislav Knezevic, Kiril D. Hristovski

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.