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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

Your Tequila May Contain Methanol

By May 4, 2013

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Happy Cinco de Mayo weekend! If your holiday celebration includes tequila, you may be interested to know the American Chemical Society (ACS) has released findings that some tequila contains methanol, 2-methyl-1-butanol and 2-phenylethanol. In case you're wondering... no, these are not good and desirable chemicals to drink. The 'alcohol' in alcoholic beverages is ethyl alcohol or ethanol (grain alcohol). Methanol (wood alcohol) and other alcohols are the types said to make you go blind and otherwise cause permanent neurological damage, not to mention giving you a nasty hangover. The ACS purposely timed the release of the results to coincide with Cinco de Mayo, to raise awareness of the quality control issue. Tequila made from 100% blue agave tended to have higher levels of the undesirable chemicals than other types of tequila (pure agave tequila is usually considered superior). Tequila is one of the best-regulated alcoholic beverages in the world, so in my opinion, the results not only point out a potential health hazard for this drink, but also indicate other beverages are probably adulterated with contaminants. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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