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National Survey of Alcoholic Beverages

As the government agency that has jurisdiction over the liquor industry, the National Tax Agency works to secure the safety and quality of alcoholic beverages for the purpose of the sound development of the liquor industry, as well as ensuring the proper and fair assessment of liquor taxes.

The National Survey of Alcoholic Beverages consists of the examination of the safety, quality, labeling and components of commercially sold liquor. This survey is annually conducted in cooperation with the National Research Institute of Brewing and the results are published on the web.

1. Safety

The National Survey of Alcoholic Beverages monitors the amount of components for which a maximum limit has been set in the Food Sanitary law: namely, methyl alcohol, sulfite (total sulfite), sorbic acid and potassium sorbate. Ethyl carbamate is also analyzed. This compound, which occurs naturally in fermented foods and alcoholic beverages, is said to be probably carcinogenic to humans. If there are any problems with a manufacturer's product, technical guidance is given by technical officers from the relevant Regional Taxation Bureau.

After the Great East Japan Earthquake, radiation examinations have also been included. All the samples that have been tested fully comply with the standards on radiation established by both Japan and the countries to which Japan exports alcoholic beverages.

2. Quality

A sensory evaluation is carried out by experts, including technical officers from Regional Taxation Bureaus. If there are any problems with a manufacturer's product, technical guidance is given by technical officers from the relevant Regional Taxation Bureau.

3. Labelling

The Labelling of liquor products is examined for regulatory compliance.

4. Components

The chemical analysis of components related to the quality of alcohol beverages (e.g., alcohol content, ekisu-bun (extract), and san-do (acidity)) is carried out at facilities at Regional Taxation Bureaus.

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