“Gluten Free” Label Clearly Defined by TTB

By Brian Kaufenberg

For some, it’s a diet by choice. For others, it’s a diet by necessity. However you cut it, the demand for gluten-free products in the U.S. has never been higher. The shelves of grocery stores are lined with products bearing a “Gluten Free” stamp, and liquor store coolers are stocked with new gluten free ciders and beers.

However, beers that use a process to remove gluten are going to have to drop the “gluten free” label as the TTB ruled on February 11, 2014 only products made with 100% gluten free ingredients can be deemed gluten free. Instead, those beers will have to use language such as “Processed,” “Treated,” or “Crafted” to remove gluten. The decision comes on the heels of the FDA’s updated regulations requiring the same.

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The TTB made the announcement in a written statement in which it described the reasoning behind the decision:

Consistent with the new FDA regulations, TTB will continue to consider “gluten-free” label claims for alcohol beverages that are made from gluten-containing grains to be misleading to consumers who are seeking to avoid the consumption of gluten for health reasons.

Breweries remove gluten from beer by using enzymes to break down the complex gluten molecules found in the malted barley and wheat grain into smaller units, which the body does not process as gluten, effectively rendering the beer gluten free. However, it is still unclear whether these gluten fragments can still have effects on celiacs or those with severe gluten allergies and consumers are wary of these processed products.

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The ruling will not affect Minnesota’s newest gluten-free brewery, Burning Brothers Brewing in St. Paul, as their beer is made from 100% gluten free ingredients. As co-founder Dane Breimhorst puts it: “We pride ourselves on no gluten in, no gluten out. Not even in an employee’s lunchbox.”

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Brian Kaufenberg is the editor-in-chief of The Growler Magazine.

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