VITAMINS could soon be added to pints of beer to reduce alcohol-related health problems.

A public health consultant with the Department of Health and Social Security says there is the possibility the Island could adopt the healthy pint proposals announced by the Scottish Executive last week.

A document produced by the executive says adding Vitamin B1, also known as thiamin, to beer could prevent some forms of alcohol-related brain damage.

Dr Paul Emerson said: 'The document recommend further studies into how thiamin could help heavy drinkers who are more deficient in the vitamin due to long-term alcohol abuse.

'Obviously after these studies have been completed we will look at the results and see if it is something we can work into our own alcohol strategy.

'This is not the first time this idea has been put forward but we are still waiting for a conclusive study to be carried out into whether there are any health benefits.'

Dr Emerson does not think adding vitamins to beer is facing up to the wider picture of alcohol abuse.

He said: 'If it is introduced it will really only be benefiting a small number of people who are deficient in thiamin because of their poor diet combined with long-term alcohol abuse.

'It will do nothing to solve what I think are the more important problems associated with alcohol abuse such as drink driving, domestic violence and the increased sale of alcopops to younger people.'

But the news has been greeted with some scepticism.

Dave Pitt, secretary of the Campaign for Real Ale in the Island, said: 'I personally would be against any sort of additive to beer and I honestly can't see this idea working.

'The Island has very strict laws regarding what can and cannot be added to beer and I can't see the law being changed for this.

'CAMRA is against any sort of unnecessary additive to the natural flavour of beer but I'm not sure whether adding vitamins for health reasons is really justified.

'People are going to drink beer regardless of whether it has added vitamins or not and I think people would actually prefer the choice not to have them added.'

The Pure Beer Act became law in 1874 and says: 'No brewer shall use in the brewing, making, mixing with, recovering or colouring, any beer or any liquid made to resemble beer, or have in his possession any copperas, coculus Indicus, nux vomica, grains of paradise, Guinea pepper, or opium or any article, ingredient, or preparation whatever for, or as a substitute for malt, sugar or hops.'

Bushy's Brewery boss Martin Brunnschweiler said: 'I think it is too early to say whether adding vitamins will really have any beneficial effects.

'If it is principally designed to help people with long-term problems with alcohol who might be deficient in the vitamin then I really don't think it is targeting the right people.

'From my point of view the people who really battle problems with alcohol drink cider, sherry and spirits rather than pints of beer.

'Even so the pure beer laws in the Island mean only natural base ingredients are added and putting other things in such as vitamin supplements is just going against this.

'I would actually say because of the way real ale is brewed in the Island it has the same proven beneficial effects as a few glasses of red wine every now and again.

'Like they say, everything in moderation.'

He added: 'Until I know more about the studies into adding vitamins to beer I would say it is not an idea that will catch on.'

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