A closer look at beer ingredients

Published on
June 1, 2022

Depending on the type of beer, brewers use different ingredients, such as barley, wheat, and oats. In relation to food safety, PhD candidate Jeroen Peters conducted research into the presence of natural toxins that can be found in certain types of grain. He will receive his PhD on 30 May 2022 with his PhD thesis “Mycotoxin multiplex microsphere immunoassays: screening from ingredients to beer”.

Beer is made from different grains, and these grains can naturally contain toxic substances such as mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are produced by fungi and can enter the grains, eventually ending up in food products.

Beer samples

Together with colleagues, Peters developed a multi-mycotoxin detection method that is easy to apply. This allows six different mycotoxins to be quickly detected in a single measurement in a large number of samples. This method was then used on various raw materials (including barley), after which 1,000 different beer samples, 60% of which were craft beers, were examined for the presence of mycotoxins. Mycotoxin deoxynivalenol was found in higher concentrations, especially in craft beers, which involve a relatively large amount of grain.

Co-operatoin with beer brewers

These results were the basis for launching a public-private partnership project together with the trade association of independent craft brewers (CRAFT). The aim of the project was to check malts (made from barley) for the presence of deoxynivalenol during the beer production process. With a strip test (similar to a COVID self-test), 106 malt samples from 11 malt houses (located in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and the United Kingdom) were tested. No alarming results emerged from this study.

European rebulations

In his PhD thesis, Peters also discusses European regulations regarding maximum permitted levels of deoxynivalenol in grains and/or processed grains. In the discussion of the thesis he argues for additional regulations for this substance in malts when it is used for brewing beer.