Belgian lager company Jupiler is also up for the award with its alcohol-free beer which contains 0.5% alcohol. Whilst this amounts to around five times less alcohol than their standard lager, it is by no means alcohol-free.
The definition of ‘alcohol-free’ products in the EU varies depending on the member state. In the Netherlands, where Jupiler is the national lager, drinks brewed with even 0.1% alcohol must be classified as alcoholic.
However, in Belgium the alcohol-free category can move within a margin of 0.5%, despite the fact that the beer can be sold anywhere in the EU, including countries such as the neighbouring Netherlands where the rules differ.
By brewing in Belgium and selling in the Netherlands, Jupiler can circumvent the issue. However, a Jupiler spokesperson told FoodNavigator "You have to know that the product Jupiler NA is taken out of production and distribution as of December 1st this year and will be replaced with our newly launched alcohol free beer Jupiler 0,0%. We understand the confusion but it is good to understand there is nothing misleading or illegal to it. For us it is just very important to operate within the legal framework the legislater offers us."
The definitions in other EU countries are also lax, with both France and Italy setting the alcohol-free limit at 1.2% alcohol, and Finland at a whopping 2.8% - the same level as many standard ales.