MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: is the wine or beer(ethanol) made with household tools toxic ?

Date: Thu Sep 27 12:59:49 2001
Posted By: Charlene Wolf-Hall, Faculty, Food Science
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 998660468.Gb

To really answer your question I need a few more details; like what type of 
homemade beverages and what ingredients are used?

If quality and safe ingredients are used, then homemade alcoholic beverages 
are safe for consumption without pasteurization.  Although, alcohol, itself 
can be toxic at high enough doses.

An example of an unsafe home fermentation would where moldy ingredients 
might be used, or if wild mold is allowed to grow in the fermentation.  
These wild molds can produce toxic substances that end up in the final 
beverage.  These toxins are also quite heat stable, so heat pasteurization 
would not eliminate them.  

Many home-brew recipes will have a cooking step involved prior to 
inoculation with yeast.  One reason for including this step is to kill off 
the spoilage microorganisms that can be commonly found in raw materials.  
Cooking after the fermentation is not necessary.  Many commercially 
produced beers are pasteurized or filtered after fermentation to prevent 
any microbial spoilage which might affect the quality of the product, but 
this type of spoilage is not really a safety concern.

I hope that answers your question.

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