Drinks producers have to be careful around gluten-free claims

Drinks producers have to be careful around 'gluten-free' claims

Fresh guidelines on how alcoholic drinks companies must handle labelling around gluten content in their products have been issued by a US Government department.

The US’ Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) yesterday (11 February) issued a revised policy on gluten labelling for alcohol producers, following a review and consultation with the Food and Drug Administration. The review was launched in August. 

In the policy, TTB said it 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".

The TTB said that products made from gluten-containing grains must be labelled either ‘processed’,  ‘treated’ or ‘crafted’ to remove gluten. This type of claim must also include a “qualifying statement that warns the consumer that the gluten content of the product cannot be determined and that the product may contain gluten”, the TTB said. 

On beer, the TTB said: “The FDA has determined there is still no scientifically valid way to evaluate the claims that beers made from gluten-containing grains can be processed in a way that removes gluten and that there is inadequate evidence about whether such methods are effective."

A growing proportion of the US population is believed to suffer from celiac disease, a condition that means ingesting gluten causes severe stomach pain.

The department said its overall updated policy may still be revised after the FDA issues a final rule or other guidance with respect to fermented and hydrolysed products.