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Concerns over high levels of alcohol in some Kombucha drinks

Consumer New Zealand has raised concerns over the variable amounts of alcohol found in the popular health drink, kombucha.

It's marketed as a health tonic but Sue Chetwin from Consumer New Zealand says it may adversely affect the liver.

Following independent testing done by Consumer NZ, some kombucha products had alcohol levels at three per cent in them.

"Anything over 1.5 per cent has to follow the alcohol and marketing regulations and anything over 0.5 per cent has to list what is actually in the product.," Ms Chetwin says.

"Manufacturers claim they are testing in the labs but they are all unaccredited labs.

"Even if it was correct when they did the test, by the time it's been on the shelf, or in the back of your car warming up, the alcohol content is rising. Unless you keep this stuff chilled, it's still working because it's got bacteria and yeast in it which is beavering away," she says.

All fermented beverages contain some level of alcohol but products that become carbonated have higher levels.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has had a number of complaints about kombucha and three products have been recalled based on alcoholic content.

Paul Dansted from the ministry says there are rules in place for the labelling of alcohol.

"Anything between 0.5-1.15 per cent needs to be on the label and conveyed to the consumer. Anything above 1.15 per cent is classified as an alcoholic beverage and there are additional restrictions," he says.

Consumer NZ is calling for clearer labelling.

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The health drink is supposed to have many health benefits, including being good for the digestive system. Source: 1 NEWS