Sell-by dates may be extended to beer

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 December, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 December, 2001, 12:00am

Beer-lovers may soon be able to choose a fresher ale from the supermarket shelf. A new proposal would require brewers and shops to display a best-before date on beer.

The Environment and Food Bureau is proposing an amendment to food labelling laws that will mean all drinks with an alcoholic strength by volume of less than 10 per cent will have to carry such a date. The proposal follows a recommendation from Codex, the international food authority.

Brewers believe customers should be given information about the perishability of their beer. 'We have received views from manufacturers that unlike other alcoholic drinks, the quality of beer is better when it is fresh,' said Assistant Secretary for Environment and Food David Leung Chee-kay. 'We think a new label is justified.'

San Miguel's managing director in Hong Kong, Freddy Kwan Wei-ming, said: 'We support customers getting more information.'

He said his company's beer stayed fresh for about a year. San Miguel products carry their date of production. The company said oxidation and temperature changes affected the flavour of beer. Taking beer out of the fridge could accelerate ageing four-fold.

However, a manager of a mainland brewery believed that statements about the freshness of beer were used as a sales gimmick.

'We have been using expiry dates on beer. Beer which has pasteurised can last for 12 to 18 months, the quality of the beer does not change much within that period,' he said.

The review will also add a requirement on labelling of ingredients or additives in a product that may cause allergies.

Labels showing the beer's ingredients will not be required.