We were all perplexed: ‘Poison in German beer’ headlined De Telegraaf. Soon it was in all media and even Misset Horeca brought the message unchanged, though they changed ‘poison’ into ‘herbicide’ in their headline. Meanwhile, German beer was getting stick from all sides – and in all likelihood completely wrongly.
The facts: an investigation of the Umweltinstitut Munich e.V. shows that fourteen beers contain traces of glyphosate, a herbicide. According to the World Health Organisation, glyphosate may be carcinogenic. In one beer 30 micrograms per liter were found, almost 300 times the amount that is allowed in drinking water. This concentration is too low to be dangerous, says the German Institute for Risk Assessment. And according to the German Minister of Agriculture you are only at risk if you drink 1000 liters per day. Most beers, moreover, remained well below the 30 micrograms.
That sounds quite different than ‘Poison in German beer “(De Telegraaf),” Traces of pesticides found in German beer (NOS) or even ‘German beer is full of poison’ (Powned). It is not certain that glyphosate ultimately is really a carcinogen, so to call it a poison straight out goes very (if not too) far. Whether the amount is miniscule or not does not even appear relevant. Crossing the road seems to me to be riskier than drinking a German beer.
But for this nuance we did not have to look to the media as they proved again, because all journalists dutifully copied the piece blindly, spending time only on changing the headline. Maybe some journalists should change their own headline once, or better, their head and replace it with one with content. Like a brain to think with, rather than merely a sense for sensationalism. Darauf ein Bier!