I was having a blast watching the Super Bowl last weekend… and it had NOTHING to do with the game! Bud Light started advertising that they have No Corn Syrup in their beer, and texts like this kept rolling in…
You see, we launched the petition that started the conversation about beer ingredients and why they matter. And now, Bud Light is spending millions of dollars on a marketing campaign to tell us that corn syrup isn’t in their beer – but there is SO MUCH MORE to this story.
Here’s how it all started…
A little over 4 years ago I was sitting at Anheuser-Busch headquarters trying to convince their executives to develop an organic beer. At the time they told me they had tried one in the past, but it didn’t sell. Stone Mill Organic Pale Ale was the first one they produced many years ago, but they took it off the market…
The original organic beer as seen at the Anheuser-Busch headquarters
Well, so much has changed since then, and not only did they end up coming out with an organic Michelob Ultra Pure Gold beer, but they advertised it during the Super Bowl! I couldn’t have been more happy to see that. I remember sitting in their board room, wondering if my arguments for an organic beer were convincing enough or just falling on deaf ears.
Meeting with executives at Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, MO
I’ve been investigating the ingredients in alcohol for the last 6 years and dedicated an entire chapter (chapter 7!) to it in my first book. The ingredients in beer are not required by law to be listed anywhere on the label and manufacturers have no legal obligation to disclose the ingredients. The beer industry is regulated by the U.S. Treasury Department (the people who collect taxes) instead of the FDA like most other food and beverages. This is why we know more about what’s in a can of Coke than what’s in our beer.
Since beer companies aren’t required to tell us their ingredients, I knew I needed to investigate this for myself and what I found shocked me. I grew concerned after discovering there is a long list of additives the government has approved for use that beer companies don’t need to tell you about… corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, stabilizers linked to intestinal inflammation, artificial colors, caramel coloring, and genetically modified ingredients, to name a few.
I knew people wanted to know more about what was in their beer (especially since my husband loves beer), so I launched a petition in 2014 asking the two biggest beer manufacturers in the world (Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors) to publish their ingredients online (1). The response was HUGE. Within the first 24 hours the petition received 43,000 signatures and Anheuser-Busch publicly agreed to publish the list of ingredients online (2). MillerCoors quickly followed.
The petition we started in 2014
Thanks to the work of the Food Babe Army, we made history that day. And that’s when Anheuser-Busch invited me to St. Louis to see how their beer was made.
Behind the scenes at Anheuser-Busch
If you watched the Super Bowl, you likely saw Bud Light’s ads about how they don’t use corn syrup in their beer. They also threw Miller Light and Coors Light under the bus for using corn syrup in their beer…Which is completely true.
I LOVE how they played the part of “Food Babe Army” in listing out the ingredients for everyone to see in these flyers. But as I wrote about in my first book, Bud Light actually never used corn syrup in their beer, so I found that misleading.
Anheuser-Busch (the parent company for Bud Light) is insinuating that just because one product is “clean”, all of their other products are a better choice, when that couldn’t be further from the truth. They are using the same ingredients as Miller Light and Coors Light in some of their other beers.
Anheuser-Busch is still using corn syrup in other beers, which is likely made with GMO corn.
Bud Light spent millions of dollars on a marketing campaign to tell us that corn syrup isn’t in their beer, but other beers by Anheuser-Busch still use it. And this didn’t go unnoticed by their competition. During the SuperBowl, MillerCoors called them out online for putting high fructose corn syrup in some of their beers…
The battle is brewing between Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors. And while it’s great to see them open up the conversation around beer ingredients and transparency, it would have been better to see Anheuser-Busch remove all corn syrup from their beers before making a such a spectacle.
You’ll find corn syrup in several of their most popular beers like Rolling Rock, Kokanee, and Busch beer…
MillerCoors uses corn syrup in their beers too, but hasn’t always disclosed this…
When MillerCoors first published their ingredients online following our 2014 petition, they did not list “corn syrup” as an ingredient (3). While the media was eating up the story, they simply reported the ingredients in Coors Light and Miller Light as “water, barley malt, corn, yeast, and hops” (4). More recent updates to their website shows the ingredients as this…
Coors Light: Water, Barley Malt, Corn Syrup (Dextrose), Yeast, Hop Extract
Miller Light: Water, Barley Malt, Corn Syrup (Dextrose), Yeast, Hops and Hop Extract
Was MillerCoors not telling the whole truth about their ingredients 4 years ago or did they recently add corn syrup and hop extracts?
Should you care if there is corn syrup in your beer?
Corn syrup isn’t typically used as a sweetener in beer, rather it’s used as a cheap sugar which ferments. The reason why you wouldn’t want to drink beer made with corn or corn syrup is because almost all corn is genetically modified (GMO)(5) and if you don’t want to support GMOs, Monsanto/Bayer, and the chemical companies who are poisoning our food and environment with Roundup herbicides linked to cancer (6) – you don’t want beer produced with GMOs. Beer is traditionally brewed with malted barley, a non-GMO grain (7), and not corn.
It’s not just the corn syrup. Beer companies are guilty of using other ingredients that don’t belong in beer. These two are the most common in mass produced beer…
Hop Extract: Rather than using whole hops or hop pellets, beer companies use a chemically altered hop extract to add bitterness while reducing the amount of actual hops in the beer. This is a cheaper way to produce beer.
Caramel Color: This brown coloring is used to make some beers appear darker. It’s manufactured by heating ammonia and sulfites under high pressure, which creates carcinogenic compounds. Newcastle removed this from their beers in 2015 (8) after we called them out for this. It appears Stella Artois (by Anheuser Busch) also no longer contains caramel coloring, as we had reported finding it listed as an ingredient on an overseas website in 2014 (3).
This is another big industry lie that we’ve seen companies do many times. They advertise how one product doesn’t contain something, but their other products still do. So you think that you can trust a brand, but you can’t.
It is CRAZY that Anheuser-Busch would base an entire multi-million dollar campaign on ONE product that doesn’t have corn syrup or hop extract – while their other products still use these ingredients.
Bud Light VP Andy Goeler was quoted as saying “While ingredient labels are not required, consumers deserve to know more about their beer. We brew Bud Light with the finest ingredients and we’re happy to proudly display them on our packaging. When people walk through a store, they are used to seeing ingredient labels on products in every aisle, except for the beer, wine and spirits aisle. As the lead brand in the category, we believe increasing on-pack transparency will benefit the entire beer category and provide our consumers with the information they expect to see.” (9)
I hope they live up to that statement when it comes to ALL of the beers at Anheuser-Busch – and not just Bud Light.
It’s just common sense. Don’t bash other products that use corn syrup and hop extract when you are doing the exact same thing. Either clean up your beers or don’t. I hope Anheuser-Busch learns from this and realizes this is not the way to win customers. We are smarter than that.
In just two short weeks my new book hits shelves and I’m so excited for you to read it. It is very eye opening. In Feeding You Lies, I delve deep into the lies that food and beverage companies tell us to get us to keep buying their products. My hope is that it will change the food industry again, by encouraging them to use more transparent practices and improve their products.
We need all hands on deck, Food Babe Army! Pre-order a copy below to be one of the first to read it and be part of our movement pushing the industry to do better.
I can’t wait to see ingredient labels on every beer at the store, can you? I know it will happen when you share posts like this to keep the beer companies on their toes!
It’s amazing how the seeds we planted to change the terrible lack of transparency in the beer industry are now bearing fruit. You are an amazing force Food Babe Army! Thank you for continuing to spread the word and demand the truth about what we are eating and drinking.
If you know anyone who loves to drink beer (I’m sure you do!) PLEASE SHARE this post with them!
P.S. Want to know more about how the food and beverage industry swindles us? MUST READ: