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French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety

"Anti-hangover" drink: no scientific basis for alleged claims

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News of 20/10/2010

21 October 2010

In July 2010, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) was asked by the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) to assess the scientific validity of claims by a beverage that it allegedly speeds up the lowering of blood alcohol levels ("accelerates the natural decrease in the alcohol level") and alleviates some of the harmful effects related to excessive alcohol consumption (“prevents hangovers”).

The Agency assessed the results of a study provided to the DGCCRF by the company marketing the drink in support of these claims. ANSES emphasised the fact that the composition of the product used in the study was not specified. ANSES also noted that the methodology used was not appropriate for the goal of the study since the protocol was not suited to the monitoring of blood alcohol elimination and the statistical tests were flawed.
Aside from criticisms of the methodology, the reductions in blood alcohol levels observed were too low in magnitude and too variable from one individual to another to have any biological significance or to reduce the behavioural consequences induced by alcohol.
ANSES also provided a summary of the existing scientific data on the effects of fructose and vitamin C on blood alcohol levels. It indicated that these studies were conducted using highly diverse protocols and often using a limited number of subjects who were not especially representative of the population as a whole. As a result, it is impossible to draw conclusions as to the effect of these nutrients on the elimination of ethanol.
In view of these elements, ANSES considers that the claim regarding the product's ability to reduce blood alcohol levels is scientifically unfounded and therefore unacceptable.
The Agency also states that the risks associated with alcohol consumption are totally eliminated only when blood alcohol levels are equal to zero. Within the context of risk prevention related to alcohol consumption, a claim mentioning a reduction in blood alcohol levels presents a risk that is likely to give consumers a false sense of security.

Find out more

> Opinion of 27 September 2010 regarding the assessment of the claimed effects of a beverage on the reduction of blood alcohol levels
> Opinion of 20 March 2006 (in French) regarding the assessment of the risks associated with the ingredients in a beverage containing plant extracts claiming to lower blood alcohol levels and the scientific justifications of the claims made ("Avis du 20 mars 2006 relatif à l'évaluation des risques liés à la composition d'une boisson contenant des extraits de plantes et présentée comme pouvant diminuer l'alcoolémie ainsi que des justificatifs scientifiques des allégations revendiquées")
> News flash: "Be wary of so-called 'anti-hangover' drinks", 16 June 2010