Close Menu

Traces of weed killer chemical found in top beer and wine brands

Traces of a herbicide commonly used in weed killer have been detected in several leading beer and wine brands, including Coors Light, Budweiser and Beringer, according to a report published by public-interest advocacy group US PIRG.

Of the 20 beers and wines tested, 19 registered levels of glyphosate

A study by research group US PIRG tested five wines and 15 beers for glyphosate – the most common herbicide in the world and an ingredient in the weed killer Roundup.

Of the 20 samples, 19 contained glyphosate, with the highest level of glyphosate found was in Sutter Home 2018 Merlot at 51 parts per billion (ppb).

For beer, Tsingtao from Hong Kong had the most with 49.7ppb, and Coors Light had the most for American beers with 31.1ppb. Other beer brands testing positive for the chemical include Miller Lite, Budweiser, Corona, Heineken, Guinness, Stella Artois, New Belgium, Sierra Nevada and Samuel Adams.

Glyphosate is not allowed or used in organic farming, however several types of organic products were contaminated, with 3 of 4 organic beer and wines tested containing glyphosate, the report stated.

This included Samuel Smith Organic (at 3.5 ppb), Inkarri Estate organic wine (5.2 ppb) and Frey Organic Natural White (4.8ppb). Large, conventional brands such as Coors, Tsingtao, and Miller Lite showed glyphosate levels above 25 ppb. Only one brand, Peak Beer, did not contain detectable levels of glyphosate.

While many organic brands don’t use herbicides to produce their products, one winery, Frey Vineyards, has said that said that it is almost impossible to completely avoid contamination as glyphosate can now be detected in rainwater.

While the widespread presence of glyphosate in so many brands may be alarming, an adult human would need to drink “140 glasses of wine a day containing the highest glyphosate level measured just to reach the level that California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has identified as ‘No Significant Risk Level’”, a spokesperson for the Wine Institute said.

In addition, William Reeves, a toxicologist for Bayer, which owns Roundup manufacturer Monsanto, claims that a 125-pound adult would have to consume 308 gallons of wine per day, every day for life to reach the US Environmental Protection Agency’s glyphosate exposure limit for humans, assuming a level of 51.4ppb to begin with, he told USA Today.

“To put 308 gallons into context, that would be more than a bottle of wine every minute, for life, without sleeping,” he said.

It should be noted that Bayer is currently facing some 9,300 lawsuits alleging that its glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup causes cancer, with the first federal trial against the company due to begin on Monday in California.

Bayer has denied all allegations that Roundup or glyphosate causes cancer, citing decades of independent studies and noting that regulators around the world have approved the product.

Of their findings, the study authors said: “While these levels of glyphosate are below EPA risk tolerances for beverages, it is possible that even low levels of glyphosate can be problematic. For example, in one study, scientists found that 1 part per trillion of glyphosate has the potential to stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells and disrupt the endocrine system.

“Our findings suggest that it is very difficult to produce beer or wine without glyphosate contamination, even for organic producers. The Brewers Association, which certifies small independent and craft beers, opposes glyphosate use in their beer according to information they have given to U.S.PIRG.”

It added: “Our findings suggest that glyphosate contamination is common in beers and wine sold in the U.S. Due to glyphosate’s many health risks and its ubiquitous nature in our food, water, and alcohol, the use of glyphosate in the US should be banned unless and until it can be proven safe.”

The full study can be read here, while the levels of glyphosate measured in each brand ranked below:-


  • Sutter Home Merlot – 51.4ppb
  • Beringer Founders Estates Moscato – 42.6ppb
  • Barefoot Cabernet Sauvingnon – 36.3ppb
  • Inkarri Malbec: Certified Organic – 5.3ppb
  • Frey Organic Natural White – 4.8ppb


  • Tsingtao Beer – 49.7ppb
  • Coors Light – 31.1ppb
  • Miller Lite – 29.8ppb
  • Budweiser – 27.0ppb
  • Corona Extra – 25.1ppb
  • Heineken – 20.9ppb
  • Guinness Draught – 20.3ppb
  • Stella Artois – 18.7ppb
  • Ace Perry Hard Cider – 14.5ppb
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – 11.8ppb
  • New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale – 11.2ppb
  • Sam Adams New England IPA – 11.0ppb
  • Stella Artois Cidre – 9.1ppb
  • Samuel Smith’s Organic Lager – 5.7ppb
  • Peak Beer Organic IPA – none detected

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No