lifestyle

Is it safe for minors to drink non-alcohol beer?

49 Comments
By Andrew Miller

As a measure to prevent drink driving and to improve people’s health, many Japanese beer manufacturers have released non-alcohol versions of their products, with such products seeing surprisingly strong sales in the marketplace. Since the products on sale contain no alcohol, it is safe to say that there is no fear of the law being broken by underage drinkers enjoying them. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find alcohol-free beer in the soft-drink section of the menu.

Nevertheless, when it comes to minors and the consumption of non-alcohol beer, the exact legalities of it all become rather confusing. The reason being that it is still necessary to show proof of your age when purchasing non-alcohol beverages. So what’s the deal here? Is it really safe for those under age to drink non-alcohol beer?

We asked four of the biggest beer companies in Japan – Kirin, Suntory, Sapporo and Asahi – “Is it safe for minors to drink beer that displays zero percent alcohol on its label?” To which, all four companies replied, “The beverages are completely alcohol free and so there’s absolutely no risk of breaking any laws.”

They further commented that, “As the alcohol contents are zero, there’s no danger of any harmful effects to the body either.”

So it’s safe to assume from all of this that it’s okay for minors to drink non-alcohol beer, right?

Well, not exactly. Although it’s not illegal, it’s recommended those under the age limit avoid consuming alcohol-free beer wherever possible. While there are no laws being broken when a minor drinks the stuff, there appears to be one fundamental reason why it can’t be recommended, according to one of our beer brewing friends.

“Regardless of the safety aspect of the product, non-alcohol beer is designed specifically for adults aged 20 years and older. Despite the product not containing any alcohol, it tastes very much like the real thing and so it is feared that non-alcohol beer could spark an interest in drinking among those who are still underage. Therefore, its consumption by minors is highly discouraged.”

Well, that would explain the need for proof of identification when ordering the stuff.

There’s also research that has been carried out into the possible damaging effects of minors drinking non-alcohol beer as well. One expert in the field made public his results into alcohol by releasing the following statement: “Youngsters who start drinking during puberty are more likely to develop alcohol dependence issues.”

There you have it, folks. While it is not illegal for minors to drink non-alcohol versions of our favorite grown-up drinks and there are certainly no fines involved, what must not be overlooked is the importance of making sure minors have a healthy understanding of alcohol and don’t get fall into the trap of consuming it before they’re ready. For this reason, it is advised that adults don’t recommend alcoholic or non-alcoholic beer to minors.

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Non-Alcoholic Drinks Should be Limited to 20 Years Old and Up According to Survey -- Beer Outranks Japanese Rice Wine and Shochu -- Everything You Need to Know About Happoshu

© RocketNews24

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49 Comments
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"it is still necessary to show proof of your age when purchasing non-alcohol beverages"

Really!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

'It tastes very much like the real thing'. If I'd been given this as a child believing that quote, I'd have skipped beer altogether and gone straight to the Scotch.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Why will the partying minors go for non-alcohol beers though??? I guess they will go straight to the real beer, the happosyu or the daisanno biru.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It may be safe, but it's a terrible idea for anyone of any age to drink this swill. Saying that they make this product in an attempt to improve people's health is a bad joke. So many times I've seen people at izakayas go through bottle after bottle of this stuff...to what end? Just drink some tea for god's sake, it actually IS good for you. Save the beer craving for when you can enjoy the real thing.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I don't get the point of non-alcohol beer. and wasn't aware that you had to show ID to buy it - certainly don't need to to buy other non-alcoholic drinks.....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you have to show ID to buy non-alcoholic beer, you mind as well buy the real deal. And no, near beer and real beer do not taste the same.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

NO its not okay.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

There’s also research that has been carried out into the possible damaging effects of minors drinking non-alcohol beer as well. One expert in the field made public his results into alcohol by releasing the following statement: “Youngsters who start drinking during puberty are more likely to develop alcohol dependence issues.”

This does not make sense. It is not clear whether the "expert" is talking about youngsters who started drinking alcoholic beer or non-alchohol beer. His study seems to be into alcohol.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I seriously doubt the manufacturers are worried about kids drinking this stuff. In fact, I'm almost certain this went into their marketing plans.

Get them used to the taste, so when they turn 20, they'll already be big customers and be ready to switch to the hard stuff.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Why would you ever consider giving this to children? In a similar vien, the other day I saw a mother giving her 4 yr old (I have one that age) son a coffee sample at Kaldi. Asinine..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Have you ever read the ingredients from the labels of those little bottles of pep tonic so loved by Japanese? Most of them contain alcohol, and as far as I know, kids can buy them to their hearts' content. Someone with access to a laboratory should do an investigative article on this subject.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

This is probably the best way to make sure kids never touch the real thing - if the real thing is that gross, I would stick to fanta.

In a similar vien, the other day I saw a mother giving her 4 yr old (I have one that age) son a coffee sample at Kaldi. Asinine..

Whats wrong with that? I used to go for coffee with a neighbor regularly when I was about that age. I loved it. Everything in moderation. My daughter has loved a nice cup of tea since she was about that age. Hasnt hurt her.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

These alcohol-free "beers" are awful and full of chemicals. I don't think there is a law that says you have to show ID when buying them, as they are no different from soft drinks. It's the retailers that have made their own rules about it.

I think these drinks are quite attractive to children. My son wanted one when he saw them, although they wouldn't sell it to him. But then I bought one and let him have a taste of it and now he doesn't want any more.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Sorry, kid - you cant buy zero-percent alcohol fake beer - that's harmful for kids. Instead, just step inside the cafe/restaurant next door and smoke to your hearts content!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

it is feared that non-alcohol beer could spark an interest in drinking among those who are still underage. Therefore, its consumption by minors is highly discouraged

I remember in the 1970s in the US a similar concern was being voiced about chewing gum packaged to look like cigarettes -- only that was targeting elementary school-aged children. I would certainly agree that minors should not be drinking this stuff (although you can buy sparkling juice packaged to look like champagne).

On a similar note, those energy drinks and nutrition 'eiyo' drinks loaded with caffeine, nicotine and who knows what else also should not be sold to minors (or even adults for that matter).

0 ( +1 / -1 )

These alcohol-free "beers" are awful and full of chemicals.

That's news to me@Scrote. The contents should be the same as ordinary beer, except that their fermentation process has been halted.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Serrano

"it is still necessary to show proof of your age when purchasing non-alcohol beverages"

Really!

Yes.... Believe it or NOT... I found out at 7-11, if you buy any non-alcohol beer, the register will prompt you with a, "I am over 20 years of age" OK Button...

Just number 1092 of where is Common-Sense in Japan...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

High quality non-alcohol beer contains far less chemicals than most of the "fruit juice" found on the market. From that point of view, non-alcoholic beer, as a result of a natural fermentation + alcohol filtering process is MUCH healthier than non-natural juice.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

A lot of or all of the zero alc. beers contain sugar or artificial sweeteners that cause cancer. Better to give kids tea or water instead.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Non-alcohol beer...Can it still be called "beer"?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Did they seriously say they are making this to improve people's health? Reminds me of smoking campaigns in the fifties.

Whether it's safe for minors to drink it or not, my question is: why would they? It tastes bad, certainly doesn't look cool, and won't get you drunk (the reason most teens experiment). Even adults shouldn't drink this swill; it MIGHT taste the same as real beer at the first sip, but not after. If you're not going to drink alcohol, drink some good old Oolong cha.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

it is still necessary to show proof of your age when purchasing non-alcohol beverages

Interesting, even when buying alcoholic beverages the only place I got ID'd was a Lawson 100 yen shop. Self checkout at the supermarket just requires me to touch "YES" if I am of legal age, and the liquor store doesn't ask anything at all.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Beer by definition is an alcoholic beverage. Minors would not drink this stuff anyway. The majority of minors that drink beer do so for the alcohol. Kids would prefer to drink soft drinks anyway. It's strange that you have to be over 20 to buy non-alcoholic beer cos it is not really beer if it has no alcohol in it, is it?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

In one of the Mitsuwa fairs (NJ location), they were promoting the alcohol free Kirin beer in a bottle. So, my dad bought one bottle and brought it home. For several weeks, I kept opening up the refrigerator staring at the bottle wondering exactly how different it is from the real thing. (Well, I don't drink anything with alcohol in it, but I stayed clear away from this bottle since I'm not sure what's in it.)

Telling by some of your responses, I'm glad I never took a sip from the free samples they were giving out back in Mitsuwa. :D I think my dad enjoyed it a little though, since he was the one who consumed the entire bottle over a period of time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Scrote

These alcohol-free "beers" are awful and full of chemicals

That is because the buy the dirt cheap stuff, not worthy for even cleaning toilets with. High quality non-alcoholic beer has four ingredients: water, malted grains, hops (if any) and brewer's yeast. Each of these items are beneficial for human health. It comes at a price though, as after the fermentation, an additional alcohol removal by filtering process is necessary.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Self checkout at the supermarket just requires me to touch "YES" if I am of legal age, and the liquor store doesn't ask anything at all.

That's exactly what the ID process at convenience stores is like. Either something flashes on screen saying you need to be over 18 and the staff member presses a button to confirm, or you need to press it yourself. There's actually no proof of age required at all.

I had to press the button when I bought a non-alcoholic beer one time. Tasted like carbonated wheat-flavoured water - not great.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It makes no sense if you consider that you are still a minor at 19 years of age. That in itself also makes no sense.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In the UK children can by cans of "shandy" which is 0.5% alcohol or less. Has a nice beer-like flavour. I would much rather drink that than drink non-alcohol beer.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, it is the same thing as giving a 10 year old kid Red Bull, it is not illegal but highly discouraged.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

From my experience it's not even necessary to provide identification when buying REAL beer. I've lived in Japan for three years and I got carded ONCE... to buy a cigar.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

As a lifelong beer lover I say there is absolutely zero chance that non-alcohol beer will help kids develop a taste for beer. When I lived in the UAE I tried it twice before my liquor license came through and that was once too many. The most awful thing I've ever tasted.

The real danger here is that non-alcohol beer is a gateway drug to a serious horse urine habit. To my knowledge that's the only drink that comes close.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

WHen I lived in Europe, my impression was that they didn't have falling-down drunkenness and hurling (throwing up) among young ppl to the extent that they do in America, and now Japan, which are both age-limited alcoholic countries. In fact it was generally seen to be very uncool to drink like that, among young and old alike.

While I don't imagine that changing the drinking age overnight would be realistic or cure that, I think that children drinking with their parents/ adults from a young age encourages responsible drinking.

That said, selling these things targetted at kids, in a prohibition-until-20 environment, is only likely to glorify drinking further and do nothing to help the excessive drinking problem. So, better keep it out of their hands at this stage...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's education plain and simple. You tell any kid no you can't have something they are going to go and try it out of spite.

BUT in the case of this so-called beverage......who in their right mind drinks it anyway? What's the point of having a beer if there is no alcohol in it? Senseless. But the lemmings among us follow along with the (faux) beer commercials and are suckered into thinking it's cool to drink.

I am ever hopeful that this too shall pass, just like cucumber flavored pepsi!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My very first reason to drink any beer would be the taste then the slight alcohol content but I didn't find a non alcohol beer I liked the taste of. I like strong malt and hops.

I think it would be alight for teenagers occasionally but not younger kids. In both France and Italy young teenagers sometimes drink small amounts of wine.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Honestly, it isn't safe for ANYONE to drink non-alcohol beer! They're NASTY!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

beer takes like crap, why would you drink it if it has no alchohol? for the taste?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

We should drink water, that's all. Then these drinks are just like anything else from the vending machine, junk, liquid sugar. Don't drink your calories.

One expert in the field made public his results into alcohol by releasing the following statement: “Youngsters who start drinking during puberty are more likely to develop alcohol dependence issues.”

Really ? In my family, we start drinking in childhood and there are few cases of alcoholism (I know 2, that are in their 60's now and started heavy drinking at middle-age, that's among about 500 relatives). As I had the occasional bottom of of glass of wine or beer with a meal, from the age of 5 maybe, I never had any fascination for alcohol, nor caffeine. But if I had grown up seeing my Dad getting back drunk from the snack/izakaya several times a week , Mum also having her karaoke chu hai all the time, the 2 calling it a romantic time when they empty a bottle together, all adults around having fun only when they are stoned... (looks like a country you know, Mr Expert ?)... I think I would have equated binge-drinking with being a grown up. I'd have been impatient to have booze parties with my friends.

What's the point of having a beer if there is no alcohol in it?

If you drink to get drunk none. That could taste good. I know these don't, but there would be ways to make a tasty low alcohol beer. In my place, you can get alcohol free versions of maitrank and of pastis, and if they are available, I'll get them as they taste as good and I don't need alcohol.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I'd rather give my (underage) son real beer than that swill. Nothing wrong with a boy sharing a cold beer with his dad on a hot summer's day after an afternoon of yard work/washing the car. It's a great experience and can teach kids that it is possible to enjoy a product without going overboard. You need to take the "taboo" out of things like alcohol- demystify them and kids will be more comfortable around them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kind of like the old tobacco push to interest kids into buying cigarettes at an older age when the old candy cigs were around (I don't smoke but I loved those little diabetic sugar sticks and pretending they were real as a kid). This is trying to interest those not old enough to fall into the Japanese drinking culture. Not a good thing tbh, but it is a form of marketing to an audience that doesn't have acess to the real thing legally.

US college drinking has some serious problems even when students reach 21 and start binge drinking. From what I heard so far this method of heavy drinking also seriously affects the UK too. The alcohol companies in the US are required by law to mention the dangers of "irresponsible" drinking but mostly it its aimed at drunk driving, and not so much the health issues caused by people drinking too much.

Just my thoughts on the matter, but this method is trying to lure the Japanese youth into a drinking culture that could easily ruin their lives later on.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Really ? In my family, we start drinking in childhood and there are few cases of alcoholism

Well, there is a difference between statistics and anecdotes. Yours is an anecdote.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

As a measure to prevent drink driving and to improve people’s health....that's ridiculous! 'Safety' may be a better term? Is this garbage made for ones health? I doubt it!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yours is an anecdote.

No, my region (not my country, as some other region have a culture of drinking strong alcohols) has low rates of alcoholism. In my town, you could see bars opened from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. , with 2/3 of customers drinking only coffee/soft drinks and 1/3 having ONE beer (or one drink) and they walk out walking normally. Campaigns to warn against alcoholism are constant. During 100 years between 1900 and 2000, they've done a good job at making moderate drinking a norm, with amounts consumed getting lower at each generation. And they had never set a minimum age to buy alcohol. But they had to recently, because that's never a definitive victory. Recently, they've had to deal with the issue of teens gathering for binge drinking, as they get influenced by Anglo-saxon culture, they eat burgers and they get drunk like the Rihannas and co. These should be carded at macdo too.

the Japanese drinking culture.

They'll get nowhere if they don't address it. Getting drunk is still valued in society, and the youth jump into the bandwagon as nothing discourages them. In Osaka, the truth is I can see drunk adults in the street or train before 8 p.m. every day, that's not on match night or after the big matsuri. They don't even hide themselves, never apologize. I rarely hear people tell to the youth : "That's a shame. Look how this loser, it's really embarrassing to be seen in that state..." , on the contrary, some say : "Ah, this person has had a good time drinking. When you're 20, you can do that too. ". And as soon as they get 20, they start being taken to nomihodai, even by teachers or bosses, and how could they realistically refuse attending or refuse kampai with a superior ? Besides, where are awareness campaigns ? They surely exist, with a small sad poster lost between 1000 giant beer ads or maybe articles like this are what serve as a campaign? They can give the teens a pseudo-beer or not, that won't change anything. What he or she wants is to get drunk like their parents, teachers, bosses... well who doesn't ? I can't even say monks.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No, my region (not my country, as some other region have a culture of drinking strong alcohols) has low rates of alcoholism

Then your region is an exception for one reason or another. The point is that just because you experienced something that doesn't conform to a trend does not disprove the trend.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't see anything wrong with it, like kids-beer, root-beer, non alcoholic wine, eggnogg, gloegg, etc.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The reason being that it is still necessary to show proof of your age when purchasing non-alcohol beverages.

Actually, no it is not. Legally, there is absolutely not such requirement. It even says on the can: "Suggested" age of consumption is over twenty. The product is not alcoholic, thus not illegal for minors under Japanese law.

However, the individual makers have decided by themselves to make it necessary because it is their feeling that the product was intended for adults. That is why you are ask for ID at some stores. It is the makers and stores not the law that has made this decision.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, there is a difference between statistics and anecdotes. Yours is an anecdote.

And just whose statistics are you going to quote?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

One expert in the field made public his results into alcohol by releasing the following statement: “Youngsters who start drinking during puberty are more likely to develop alcohol dependence issues.”

I have seen no evidence whatsoever that youngsters that started drinking non-alcoholic beverages will become likely to have alcohol dependence issues. Seems like pure guess-work to me.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I have seen no evidence whatsoever that youngsters that started drinking non-alcoholic beverages will become likely to have alcohol dependence issues. Seems like pure guess-work to me.

Despite what those ignorant of statistics would have you believe, that is not how statistics works. They don't just one day get up and say "Yeah, this seems right, I'ma publish it."

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Despite what those ignorant of statistics would have you believe, that is not how statistics works. They don't just one day get up and say "Yeah, this seems right, I'ma publish it."

Yeah, Einstein? Then why is it in this article?

There’s also research that has been carried out into the possible damaging effects of minors drinking non-alcohol beer as well.

There has been non-alcoholic beer for a very long time. Minors choosing to drink alcohol, choose real alcohol, not non-alcohol. They are not buying it for the taste, at least not after the first time.

Drinking alcohol at a young age does have a serious connection to alcohol dependence later. I see nothing serious to suggest that drinking non-alcohol does. You have 'statistics' that show otherwise?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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