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Russia finally decides: beer is not actually a food

Dmitry Medvedev signs a law that classifies beer as an alcoholic drink – ending its status as an unregulated foodstuff.

Dmitry Medvedev samples some low-alcohol home brewing during a visit to a university in 2008.
Dmitry Medvedev samples some low-alcohol home brewing during a visit to a university in 2008.
Image: AP

THE RUSSIAN PRESIDENT Dmitry Medvedev has signed a new law which ends a legal quirk where beer was considered ‘food’.

Previous laws decreed that anything with less than 10 per cent ethanol content was not deemed ‘alcoholic’ – meaning that beer was essentially sold as if it was entirely unregulated.

BBC reported that beer has become significantly more popular in Russia in recent years – supplanting vodka as the tipple of choice – with its unregulated status meaning that the drink was openly consumed in the same way as soft drinks.

It added that the country’s alcohol consumption levels were already at twice the level deemed ‘critical’ by the UN’s World Health Organisation.

The new restrictions come on top of previous moves to triple the taxes levied on beer, which were unsuccessful in curbing its popularity.

The Australian remarked that the laws also curb, for the first time, the hours during which alcohol can be sold – banning sales from between 11pm and 8am – and regulate the manner in which alcohol companies can advertise.

The law doesn’t take effect until 1 January 2013 – meaning the country has long enough to drown its sorrows about the move.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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