Many people believe that alcohol cooks off when it’s added to food. They think that the flavor is all that remains or that there is minimal alcohol when heat is applied. The reality is that alcohol may still be in the dish and could lead to impairment in large enough quantities.
It is a myth that all of the alcohol will cook out of your food in the majority of cases. While alcohol does diminish with cooking time, how much remains will depend on the temperature of the dish, the amount of alcohol added as well as when the alcohol was added.
Studies show that alcohol remains in many prepared dishes
In one study, it was shown that alcohol content does diminish with cooking time, but the amount that remains after 2.5 hours is still around 5%. Most dishes aren’t cooked that long.
For example, if alcohol is added to a dish that is then simmered for 15 minutes, around 40% of the alcohol will remain. If the food is cooked for an hour, then around a quarter of what was added will stay in the dish.
Of course, individual serving sizes will impact how much a person really ingests, but it’s necessary to be aware of alcohol being in the dish. If you’re not aware, then you may drink alcohol with dinner and not realize that dinner is adding to your blood alcohol concentration.
How can you find out about the alcohol content in your food?
It will be important to find out how much alcohol is in your food if you want to avoid impairment. When you order a dish, you can ask if it’s cooked with wine, spirits or other alcohol. If so, you should be prepared to add that alcohol to any other alcohol you ingest for the purposes of determining your intoxication level. You may also opt to choose a different dish or to ask that yours is prepared without alcohol or by using an alcohol-free extract instead.
Being aware of where alcohol is in your diet is the key to seeing how it affects you and avoiding driving when you’re impaired.