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What counts as non-alcoholic?

By Posted in Drinks

One of the questions we get asked most frequently is ‘does 0.5% count as non-alcoholic?’ Consumers often see products labelled 0.5% being marketed as non-alcoholic, and it can cause some confusion. This is largely down to labelling laws in the UK varying to those in a number of other countries.

When we think of fermentation we usually think of alcohol. But it’s also an essential part of the production of many types of food. Some foods even contain a natural trace amount of alcohol. Consumers are rarely aware of the small amount of alcohol in things such as rye bread or soy sauce. 

We don’t tend to worry about these, as the amount is so small that it would be impossible to become intoxicated by consuming these things. We are also not eating them for the purpose of consuming alcohol, we are eating them because we enjoy the taste of the food. 

Will drinks containing 0.5% get me drunk?

If a drink contains 0.5% alcohol by volume it must therefore contain 99.5% water and other non-alcoholic ingredients. Labelling regulations are complicated and vary from place to place, but in many parts of the world, 0.5% drinks are labelled as alcohol-free. In Club Soda, we agree, and we’ve been campaigning to change the UK’s labelling laws to make them less confusing, and to fall in line with what the rest of Europe does regarding labelling of these products.

Drinks containing up to 0.5% cannot cause you to become intoxicated and are safe for drivers and pregnant women to consume. That’s because the amount of alcohol these drinks contain is so negligible, your body will safely process it before it can have any effect on you. 

Using non-alcoholic drinks to change your drinking

Alcohol-free alternatives can be a great tool in helping you to change your relationship with drink, and we are gradually seeing more and more brands bring products to market. It’s about having choices, and feeling like a grownup when you go to the pub, instead of only being presented with a range of sugary fizzy drinks. Lots of Club Soda members have used these drinks to maintain sobriety, or to pace their drinking on a night out by alternating between full strength and alcohol-free drinks.

When you are browsing for alcohol-free drinks, you can feel safe that 0.5% will not have any negative impact on your health or your mind, and will not derail any plans you have for sobriety or a dry day. Of course it is ultimately your choice whether these products are right for you, but we hope this sets your mind at ease and helps you to make an informed decision.

If you’re looking for non-alcoholic drinks that suit your tastes, check out our friends over at Wise Bartender, who stock an extensive range. And the Club Soda Guide has a comprehensive listing of drinks and the venues that serve them.


Club Soda is an Amazon Associate and earns a fee from all qualifying Amazon purchases made using affiliate links featured on this site. Club Soda may earn affiliate fees from any purchases made on Wise Bartender website using links on the Club Soda website.

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