Chemical content of unrecorded distilled alcohol (bai jiu) from rural central China: Analysis and public health risk

Ian M. Newman, Ling Qian, Niran Tamrakar, Yonghua Feng, Ganrong Xu

Abstract


Newman, I., Qian, L., Tamrakar, N., Feng, Y., & Xu, G. (2017). Chemical content of unrecorded distilled alcohol (bai jiu) from rural central China: Analysis and public health risk. The International Journal Of Alcohol And Drug Research, 6(1), 59-67. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.7895/ijadr.v6i1.236

Aims: To test 47 samples of locally distilled unrecorded beverage alcohol (bai jiu) obtained in rural central China.

Methods: Alcohol samples purchased from home-based makers or from small village shops were analyzed for ethanol, methanol, acetaldehyde, ethyl acetate, six higher alcohols, arsenic, cadmium, and lead. Results were judged against the standards for these compounds set by the AMPHORA Project.

Findings: Ethanol concentrations ranged from 38.7% to 63.7% (mean 50.4%). Methanol and methyl acetate detected in all samples did not exceed the Alcohol Measures for Public Health Research Alliance (AMPHORA) limits. Acetaldehyde was present in all samples, with three samples exceeding the AMPHORA limit by a small amount. Lead was found in 57.4% of the samples with one sample exceeding the AMPHORA limit; cadmium was found in 89.4% of the samples with two exceeding the AMPHORA limit. Arsenic was found in 46.8% of the samples with none exceeding the AMPHORA limit.

Conclusions: The three samples that exceeded AMPHORA limits for cadmium or lead are of concern in terms of the potential of long-term exposure for local people who regularly consume locally made bai jiu. The main health concern from bai jiu appears to be the risk associated with high ethanol concentration—the same health concern as for recorded, commercially produced spirits.


Keywords


unrecorded alcohol; artisanal alcohol; spirits; China; noncommercial alcohol; bai jiu; 白酒; traditional alcohol; homemade alcohol; homebrew

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7895/ijadr.v6i1.236

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