Is there formaldehyde in your beer? Actually, the answer is yes, and it is not just Asian beers that contain trace amounts of formaldehyde, the chemical that keeps all those dead frogs looking so nice and fresh in the biology lab.
According to WikiAnswers:
Formaldehyde well below any possible toxic level is sometimes added to beer and ale as a partial preservative.
Apart from that, there is no formaldehyde in alcohol naturally. HOWEVER, all the necessary ingredients are there. Methanol (wood alcohol or shellac thinner) is so close chemically that the human body transforms it into formaldehyde, instead of into the similar chemical acetaldehyde that the body is equipped to break down and excrete.
Drinking methanol results in a rapid buildup of formaldehyde in the body that can cause rapid blindness, organ failure and death. If one escapes death, the likelihood of brain damage and neural problems is high.
In response to rumors about the safety of Tsingtao beer, the existence of trace amounts of formaldehyde in beer was confirmed by China’s People’s Daily in 1995:
Chinese brewery giant Tsingtao has confirmed the safety of its product, saying the per-liter formaldehyde content of its product is much lower than the standard set by the World Heath Organization (WHO).
The Tsingtao Brewery Co., Ltd. made the remarks in a statement it issued Friday in response to earlier domestic media reports putting Tsingtao beer’s formaldehyde content under suspicion.
China’s State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (SAQSIQ) also said that Chinese beer, including big-name Tsingtao beer, is safe to drink.
Fan Wei, Tsingtao Brewery’s chief engineer, described the media reports that 95 percent of Chinese beer contains excessive formaldehyde as being “inconsistent with the facts.”
He said the company had strict quality control in every links of production and the formaldehyde content of Tsingtao beer was “much lower than both national and international standards.”
The local quality watchdog in Qingdao, where Tsingtao Brewery is headquartered, supported the company, stressing the beer’s per-liter formaldehyde content ranges from 0.1 to 0.3 milligrams, far lower than the national and WHO safety standards.
Formaldehyde appears naturally in any brewery process but no such chemical is artificially added to Tsingdao Beer as a stabilizer, according the local quality watchdog.
Other Chinese breweries affected by the media reports include national big names Yanjing Beer and Snow Brewery.
The SAQSIQ spot-checked 157 domestic beers and 64 foreign products from countries including the United States, Germany, Japan and the Republic of Korea and found that imported brands contained 0.10 to 0.61 milligrams of formaldehyde on average per liter, compared with 0.10 to 0.56 milligrams for Chinese products.
So drink up, all that formaldehyde just might keep you feeling younger.