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.
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