Is 0.5% ABV Truly Alcohol-Free?

friends drinking alcoholic-free drinks on the beach

At SipTrip, our mission is to support and cultivate a community that celebrates the alcohol-free lifestyle. We aim to be a source of knowledge, encouragement, and friendly discussion for those who have chosen, or are exploring, an alcohol-free life.

Today, we delve into a question that often raises eyebrows in our community: Can a beverage with 0.5% Alcohol By Volume (ABV) be considered alcohol-free?

Deciphering ABV

Before we get into it, let's clarify what ABV means. Alcohol By Volume (ABV) is a global standard measure used to denote the amount of alcohol (ethanol) contained in an alcoholic beverage.
In the UK, there are specific definitions for drinks based on their alcohol content. Drinks are categorised as 'alcohol-free' if they contain no more than 0.05% ABV, 'dealcoholised' up to 0.5% ABV, and 'low-alcohol' for anything up to 1.2% ABV.

Is 0.5% ABV Alcohol-Free?

Given these definitions, a drink with 0.5% ABV cannot technically be classified as 'alcohol-free' in the UK, but rather, 'dealcoholised'. However, the 'alcohol-free' label on drinks containing up to 0.5% ABV does spark conversations among those who choose to abstain from alcohol. Some may feel comfortable with such beverages, whilst others may perceive them as conflicting with their alcohol-free lifestyle.

Interestingly, many everyday foods and beverages naturally contain small amounts of alcohol, typically resulting from fermentation, a natural process used in food production.

friends enjoying alcohol-free beer on the beach

Foods & Drinks with Under 0.5% ABV That Might Surprise You

Let’s take a look at some examples:

Ripe fruits

As fruits ripen, they naturally ferment, producing a small amount of alcohol. Overripe fruits can have an ABV of up to 0.5%.

Bread and pastries

Yeast ferments the sugars in the dough to create carbon dioxide and alcohol. While most of the alcohol evaporates during baking, trace amounts can remain, particularly in undercooked or dense breads.


This popular fermented tea drink can contain up to 0.5% ABV, depending on the length of fermentation.

Vinegar and sauerkraut

These fermented foods can contain small amounts of alcohol, although it's typically less than 0.5% ABV.

Soy sauce and teriyaki sauce

The fermentation process can lead to an alcohol content of up to 2%, though it's typically less than 0.5% ABV in the finished product..

Vanilla extract

Yes, your pure vanilla extract does contain alcohol – as much as 35% ABV. But it's used in such small amounts and most of the alcohol usually evaporates during cooking.

alcohol-free beer

Shape your own alcohol-free lifestyle

These foods and drinks are unlikely to cause any noticeable effects or result in a positive blood alcohol test. Nevertheless, if you are committed to a lifestyle that entirely avoids alcohol, you might decide to steer clear of these items or seek alternatives.

At SipTrip, we respect each person's decision in shaping their own alcohol-free lifestyle and encourage everyone  to make decisions that feel right for them. Always remember to check labels and ask questions if you're unsure about a product.

Cheers to defining and living your alcohol-free life on your terms!

Tried a non-alcoholic beer you like? Why not leave a review so that others might enjoy the same experience!

Posted on August 5th 2023

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