New Zealand brewers are asking a
trans-Tasman food regulator to stop making them warn drinkers they
are using bits of fish bladder in the beer.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) requires beer labels
to warn consumers allergic to fish when the dried swim bladders,
known as isinglass, from tropical fish have been used to clarify the

Now the Brewers Association of New Zealand wants an exemption
from the mandatory declaration for allergens in beer and wine.

Wine and beer makers began fighting against disclosing their use
of the fish parts when regulations were introduced in 2002
requiring labelling of all products that could cause anaphylactic

The winemakers claim isinglass gives wine a silkier texture, and
the Beer, Wine and Spirits Council fought for years to get the label
rule lifted.

One major beer brewer, Lion Nathan, actually stopped using
isinglass rather than to have to put the label on its beers. It said
at the time that the nation’s major breweries in New Zealand were
designed around the efficiency of isinglass, and that it would look
at using the treatment again if the label rule was lifted.

FSANZ spokeswoman Lydia Buchtmann, of Canberra, said today the
agency had now concluded that isinglass-fined beer and wine “does
not raise any safety concerns for consumers allergic to fish”.

It is recommending exempting isinglass from allergen declaration
provisions for beer and wine, and is seeking public comment.

Many vegetarians consider beers processed with these finings, to
be unsuitable for vegetarian diets.

The fish bladders are almost entirely collagen, with a high
content of an amino acid which attracts molecules of bitter
tannins, and phenolics. Additions of between 0.02g and 0.1g per
litre can bring brilliant clarity to white wines.