TTB speaks out about gluten-free beer labeling

Wondering how your gluten-free beer is affected by the FDA and the TTB?
Gluten free beer
Last week, The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) announced that they have completed their review of the FDA’s ruling on gluten free labeling. They have updated their interim policy to remain consistent with the FDA August 2013 ruling. The important take away from their press release is their statement on misleading labeling.

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. However, products made from gluten-containing grains may be labeled with a statement that the product was “Processed,” “Treated,” or “Crafted” to remove gluten, if that claim is made together with a qualifying statement that warns the consumer that the gluten content of the product cannot be determined and that the product may contain gluten.

Beer made from traditional grains have been a point of controversy in the gluten free community. The process of hydrolyzing or sufficiently fermenting the gluten-containing grians, or the use of enzymes that break down gluten, are considered by many to sufficiently remove the danger posed to anyone with a gluten reactive syndrome. However, traditional testing methods may not accurately quantify gluten content in these fermented items, and the new testing methods are still undergoing external validation.

In time, the FDA will issue a follow-up ruling on fermented beverages, and the TTB will issue its final ruling to remain consistent. The TTB press release can be found on their website, along with the full ruling.

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