What Is Alcohol & How Is It Used In Foods & Beverages?

3D-model of Alcohol In Foods (src)

Alcohol, ethyl, or ethanol are mainly found in alcoholic beverages, but is also found in smaller amounts in many common foods and drinks.

The alcohol in foods is a result of ethanol fermentation.

It’s when yeasts convert sugars into ethanol and carbon dioxide.

Alcohol can be regarded as a carbohydrate, even though there are alcohols that are entirely carb-free.

Alcohol really don't fit any of the standard categories of food molecules, but it can have a confusing effect on blood sugar levels because it prevents the liver from producing glucose.

Table of Contents

Alcohol In Foods And Drinks

Many processed foods go through fermentation, like bread made with yeast, soy sauce, and vinegar.

But even ordinary foods like a ripe banana, contain small amounts of alcohol.

The amount of alcohol present in food and drink is very much lower than the amount in alcoholic drinks.

Alcoholic Beverages

The term alcohol originally referred to the primary alcohol ethanol.

Ethanol is used as a drug and is the main alcohol present in alcoholic beverages.

A large alcohol consumption has consequences for the health and well-being of those who drink. (source)

Excessive alcohol use has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions.

Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems. (source )

Ethyl In Foods

Alcohol in foods is in the form of ethyl.

It’s used as a food additive and can help with the coloring of different foods, as well as enhance the flavors of food extracts. (source )

Ethanol is also widely used in herbal medicines, even for children. (source )

Alcohol is a component of fermented food.

It means that you can find it in ordinary foods like bread, yogurt, or fruit juices. (source )

Ethanol is classified as a natural component in foods and is therefore not needed to be labeled as alcohol-containing. (source )

Pregnant women, children, and adolescents, or people suffering from psychotic or psycho-organic central nervous system disturbances are particularly vulnerable to ethanol. (source )

Alcohol As A Flavoring Agent

Alcohol in foods is sometimes referred to as flavoring agents.

Some of these flavoring agents have relatively low water solubility, and, as such, are highly volatile.

For example, ethanol, which is commonly used as a flavoring agent, is a volatile compound having a relatively low water solubility.

As a result, ethanol is very volatile and tends to evaporate quickly.

Foods You Can Find Alcohol In

You find Alcohol mostly in beverage, and spices and herb products.

Examples of food sources include

Foods in our nutrition tool

You can find regularly updated top-ranked lists of foods for over 200+ nutrients in our nutrition tool.

If you are interested in what foods contain the most alcohol we recommend, you visit our tool.

Here's our top-ranked list of foods that contain alcohol.

Sara Niemelä

co-founder Care Omnia, Head Content Creator

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Nutrition is my passion. I've spent thousands upon thousands of hours reading, analyzing, categorizing and comparing research studies.

I’m a wife and a mother of three. I enjoy the outdoors, cooking, and spending time with my family.