The findings could help provide a "shot" of quality assurance to the estimated billion-dollar tequila market, the researchers say. Their study is scheduled to appear in the June 14 issue of the American Chemical Societys Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
But theres no reason for consumers to panic, the researchers say. "Tequila is one of the best regulated spirits in the world with strict Mexican standards and labeling regulations," says study leader Dirk Lachenmeier, Ph.D., a chemist with Chemisches und Veterinruntersuchungsamt Karlsruhe (Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Laboratory of Karlsruhe) in Germany. Thanks to advancements in chemistry, the quality of this ancient Mexican beverage can now be protected.
Tequila is made from the blue Agave plant and its production is limited to certain geographic areas, primarily to the state of Jalisco in West-Central Mexico. Although it is subject to strict production standards and labeling regulations, adulterated samples have occasionally been reported, the researchers say. The exact percentage of fraudulent samples on the market is unknown, they add.
High-quality tequila is made with 100 percent Agave, while lower-end, mixed tequila is made by adding up to 49 percent sugar prior to fermentation. This so-called mixed-tequila is usually shipped out in bulk containers for bottling in the importing countries. Labeling fraud can result when these bulk tequilas are identified as "100 % Agave" or if alcohol from other sources is added. These practices are more likely to take place
Contact: Michael Bernstein
American Chemical Society