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In March 2020, a 20% increase in the number of distillers in the UK

Remember Allergens Can Lurk in Alcohol Too!

May 2020

In March 2020, a 20% increase in the number of distillers in the UK was reported during 2019.[1]  Alcohol sales in corner shops and supermarkets went up by 22% in the same month. A nation in coronavirus lockdown seems to be turning to alcohol to help get it through the days, with wine and spirits outselling beers.[2]

What is not known is whether or not consumers read the ingredients labels on alcoholic purchases as much as they would with a food product and whether or not those who suffer from allergies are aware that alcoholic tipples can have allergens within their ingredients list.

The Castmarque website comments: “Allergens in beer can no longer be avoided or ignored” and adds that “many producers are experimenting with a whole range of ingredients that might well be allergenic to some of the population.”  It points to an increased use of lactose sugar in milk stouts and also low-alcohol beer, plus an increased use of ingredients such as shellfish and real peanut butter.[3]

Its advice to those serving beers on draught is to flush the line thoroughly, if a beer containing an allergen has been served.

Even though reactions are rare and intolerances more common, the allergen dangers of different drinks often seem to go under the radar and are very likely to be unknown to many of those serving or selling them.  Absolut Vodka actually recommends that those with allergies avoid its flavoured vodkas altogether, as that is the easiest way to steer clear of issues.[4]  Those with an allergic reaction to apricots are advised to avoid Amaretto Disaronno, whilst there are eight common allergens that can be found in some wines.  How many people would be aware that albumen from egg whites is used to clarify in some red wines, that casein (milk protein) is sometimes used in white wine production, or that some wines use chitosan, made from the exoskeletons of crabs, shellfish and shrimps?

Serving drinks without a knowledge of what they contain, could easily catch out an eatery that is on-top of allergen control within its kitchens.

Should any incident occur, in which the health of a member of the public is harmed by what they consume, it is vital for a business to have the right insurance protection in place, so that legal costs and damages can be covered, if necessary. Having strong risk management controls in place is also key. Prevention is far better than cure.

If you need help with insurance covers such as public liability insurance, legal expenses cover, management liability protection and product recall, (should that hipster gin actually contain allergens you had forgotten to note on the label), or you wish to find someone to assist you with your risk management, please use our ‘Find a Local Broker’ tool.







Each applicable policy of insurance must be reviewed to determine the extent, if any, of coverage for COVID-19. Coverage may vary depending on the jurisdiction and circumstances. For global client programs it is critical to consider all local operations and how policies may or may not include COVID-19 coverage.

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COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation and changes are occurring frequently The information given in this publication is believed to be accurate at the date of publication shown at the top of this document. This information may have subsequently changed or have been superseded, and should not be relied upon to be accurate or suitable after this date.