I’ll pass on the alcohol (testing) thanks!

Alcohol can be ingested from a surprising number of sources, not just the obvious ones. A good thing to note if you may face alcohol testing on the roads or at work.

Whether you don’t drink alcohol because of religious reasons, because you don’t like it, because you’re pregnant or for health reasons, abstaining from alcohol isn’t arduous. For others, however, going a day without alcohol can be difficult. And many of us know the temptation when we go to a social event where there is plenty of alcohol available but we need to be careful because we have to drive or go to work.

Last week we posted an article questioning whether you are safe to drive or go to work after one or two drinks of alcohol. The interesting – and perhaps surprising – result is that it is possible to pass alcohol testing, but still be impaired and therefore at risk after only a small amount of alcohol.

An interesting offshoot of this article is that it’s not just the obvious alcoholic drinks (e.g. beer, wine, spirits) that you need to be aware of if you are abstaining from alcohol or being responsible because you need to drive or work. Other drinks and food can contain alcohol and while it’s often in small amounts, it can add up.

For example:

  • While no foods naturally contain alcohol, you do need to be concerned with the alcohol that is added during the making of a dish.
  • If alcohol has been added to a cooked dish, some will be burnt off but a percentage will often remain. Sauces, gravies, casseroles and baked goodies cooked with wine, brandy, sherry and other alcohol are common examples. The cooking method and how long the alcohol is cooked for can make a significant difference.
  • If alcohol is added to dishes that aren’t cooked (e.g. some trifles and mousses) not surprisingly no alcohol is lost during the making of the dish. If you scoffed enough of Grandma’s trifle you could easily go over the 0.05 blood alcohol limit during alcohol testing!
  • Foods flamed with alcohol appear to have the alcohol burned off, but some is retained.
  • Some foods that can unexpectedly contain alcohol include vanilla and almond extracts, mustards, fruit and black forest cake, some vinegars, pates and liqueur chocolates.
  • It’s not just foods. Drinks that may contain alcohol include the currently popular kombucha, energy drinks and ‘alcohol-free’ beer and wine. To be sold from unlicensed venues (e.g. milk bars and grocery stores) these drinks can contain alcohol but only in small amounts.
  • Mouthwash is another product that many of us use that can contain alcohol, although alcohol-free versions are available. Indeed, there are stories of people who have failed alcohol testing because they gargled with mouthwash a short time before the test. It sounds like a myth, but it is potentially possible.
  • Also be careful of any medications you may be taking as some can contain alcohol.


Alcohol can be ingested from a surprising number of sources, not just the obvious ones. A good thing to note if you may face alcohol testing on the roads or at work. Credit Simon Law https://www.flickr.com/photos/sfllaw/3315262718/

By Michael

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Melbourne and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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