Big beer drinkers who down two pints a day may be exposing themselves to harmful levels of fungal toxins, a study has found.
Researchers analysed the amounts of mycotoxins produced by microscopic fungi in 154 brands of beer sold in Europe.
They found that their levels were low enough not to pose a risk to the average beer lover. But anyone quaffing a litre or more of beer a day could be consuming a potentially hazardous quantity of the substances.
The two most abundant toxins, deoxynivalenol, or DON, and HT-2, appeared respectively in 60% and 9% of the samples tested.
For people drinking a lot of beer, exposure to these toxins was "approaching or even exceeding" the maximum tolerable daily intake (TDI) levels set by the Scientific Committee on Food that advises the European Commission.
People in the Republic topped the beer drinking table, with each person consuming an average of 142.8kg a year - or 250 pints.