Isinglass is a fining - when added to beer it helps the beer clarify - and it's a form of collagen derived from fish swim bladders.

Given that this is an animal-derived product, do breweries have to declare this on the packaging?

  • 4
    Where? Regulations like this are highly dependent on where the beer is brewed, bottled or sold.
    – wax eagle
    Feb 10, 2014 at 15:50
  • 1
    It was meant as a general question - I don't know if there are any regulations, but for sake of clarity and focus, let's say the EU.
    – mdma
    Feb 10, 2014 at 17:34
  • I don't know if it is legally required - I don't remember ever seeing it on a bottle I've bought. However, ethically, I think it would be a good idea and would show respect to your customers (particularly of the vegan variety). Feb 10, 2014 at 20:01
  • 4
    both answers were downvoted without comment. that's not helpful nor encouraging in this beta period.
    – mdma
    Feb 10, 2014 at 21:00
  • 1
    well, broad as it is, it seems there's already a consensus on labeling being not required in large parts of the world.
    – mdma
    Feb 11, 2014 at 2:30

4 Answers 4



In 2003, the EC discussed requiring labeling for Isinglass as a potential food allergen.

The brewers in the EC successfully argued that it was part of the processing and not an additive and thus did not require labeling.

Isinglass finings are a tried and tested method of clarifying beer and so it came as a great relief to traditional cask ale brewers when the EC, last year, introduced an amendment to the 2003 labelling directive. The brewing industry successfully argued that as a processing aid, not an ingredient that would be consumed, and with a long history of use with no recorded incidents of an allergic reaction, there was a good case for isinglass to be exempt from the directive.

  • What about European countries that are not part of the EC? Lichtenstein, Norway and Iceland come immediately to mind.
    – JohnP
    Feb 10, 2014 at 21:15
  • @JohnP question is about the EU, Norway and Iceland are irrelevant. Were this a general question it should be attracting close votes.
    – wax eagle
    Feb 10, 2014 at 21:17

At least in the United States, there is no requirement for ingredients to be listed on bottles/packaging. While foods are required to list ingredients, this is because they are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Beer and other alcohol, on the other hand, are regulated by the Treasury Department which has no such ingredient listing requirements. So, Isinglass would need no special ingredient listing.

Some of the ingredients found in many American beers that might surprise you include:

  1. Propylene Glycol (Also used in anti -freeze)
  2. GMO sugars/corn syrup
  3. Monosodium Glutamate
  4. Calcium Disodium EDTA
  5. Insect derived food dyes

There was a law enacted in Germany in the 1400's concerning purity of beer, known as Reinheitsgebot. This has been adapted and changed slightly since then, and was adapted in the 1950's into a taxation law that also addressed purity (Biersteuergesetz). The taxation law was relaxed in the late 1980's, and allowed any ingredients allowed in food to be allowed in beer. This only applies to imported beers, however, as German breweries still have to abide by the purity restrictions.

  • 1
    Care to explain the downvote?
    – JohnP
    Feb 10, 2014 at 21:04
  • Sure, you answered for the US with a good bit of irrelevant information. That's not an answer to this question.
    – wax eagle
    Feb 10, 2014 at 21:08
  • "It was meant as a general question", with the later emphasis on the EU. I put what is known for the US (Addressing the general) and added what I knew about Germany. I apologize for not listing the requirements for all EU countries.
    – JohnP
    Feb 10, 2014 at 21:11
  • Please add sources for the additive claims.
    – jalynn2
    Feb 11, 2014 at 13:13
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    #1 is scare-mongering. Car antifreeze is usually ethylene glycol (and is toxic). Propylene glycol is sometimes used on boats, specifically because it's very non-toxic (it may get into the water), but it's also used as a vehicle for pharmaceuticals and is generally regarded as safe (GRAS) for food use. Feb 11, 2014 at 17:16

Food Standards Australia New Zealand approved an amendment to the code in March 2009, providing an exemption to mandatory labelling requirements for the use of isinglass in beer and wine.

Clause 4 of Standard 1.2.3 deals with ingredients that trigger a mandatory declaration. The "fish products" line of the table of covered ingredients was amended to read

Fish and fish products, except for isinglass derived from swim bladders and used as a clarifying agent in beer and wine

The report from FSANZ also included a survey of international laws regarding isinglass. In addition to the USA and EU that have been covered by other questions, it mentions:

  • Health Canada amended its food labelling requirements in September 2004 such that fining agents derived from fish, milk and egg, used during the manufacture of standardised alcoholic beverages, would be exempt from the allergen labelling requirements.

  • In Japan, Fish is not included on the list of allergens requiring mandatory labelling, with only certain fish species being recommended for labelling. However, alcohol beverages and related products are not subject to the allergen labelling requirements, so wouldn't be covered anyway.

  • The Codex Alimentarius General Standard for the Labelling of Pre-packaged Foods (Codex Stan 1-1985) requires the declaration of fish products used as ingredients or food additive, and makes no mention of an exemption for isinglass. In countries that have adopted this standard without making any modifications and apply it to alcoholic beverages, use of isinglass would presumably have to be declared.


I think what you are trying to get at is should it be disclosed for people who might be ideologically or otherwise opposed to consuming or using animal products. If that is the case then I think you should disclose on your packaging.

It does should like more of a filtering agent than an ingredient though, so like passing something through a charcoal filter. You don't see charcoal as an ingredient.

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