Science - January 27, 2010

Knowledge institute to amend text in beer guide

'A storm in a beer glass', is the response given byFrans Kok, chairman of the Knowledge Institute for Beer, after it's been chided by the Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy (STAP) for misrepresenting advice about alcohol consumption given by the Health Council of the Netherlands. In any case, the knowledge institute will amend the text in its beer guide.

Not more than two per day
STAP director Wim van Dalen has criticized the beer guide in an open letter. A part of the guide reads: 'People are more concerned about their health. Therefore, they want sufficient exercise and healthy food. A glass of wine, beer or distilled drink now and then fits into such a healthy lifestyle, which is also the opinion of the Health Council.' Van Dalen considers that this is a wrong representation of the state of affairs. 'The Council does not say that it is healthy to drink one to two glasses of alcohol a day', he writes in his letter. 'It is the upper limit for people who are already used to drinking.' In other words, alcohol consumption does not necessarily play a part in a healthy lifestyle in the way that eating enough vegetables and fruits as recommended does. 'Alcohol consumption has more cons than pros', Van Dalen adds. 'The consumer is entitled to just information: less is better.'
Positive effect
'If people could interpret the text wrongly, we will amend it of course', says Kok. The Human Nutrition professor stresses that the institute will follow the guidelines of the Health Council concerning alcohol consumption. 'We don't want to motivate anyone to drink and we don't need to promote beer.'
Aafje Sierksma, director of the Knowledge Institute, is surprised at the reaction of STAP. 'They did need a long time to think about the matter', she says. 'The beer guide has been around since November.' Sierksma can see that the text in the beer guide could be misinterpreted. 'It has never been our intention to encourage drinking', she says. 'Moderate drinking does, however, have sound positive effects on the heart and blood vessels and in preventing Old Age Diabetes; health benefits of responsible alcohol consumption are more than the adverse effects.' And yet, the knowledge institute will rectify the questionable passages to avoid misunderstanding.