Gluten-free claims for regular, barley-based beer are currently off limits in the US, since conventional fermentation does not remove the gluten protein; current ‘gluten free’ beers avoid this problem by offering celiacs beers made with gluten-free grains such as sorghum or buckwheat.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) currently regulates labelling of barley-based beers and an interim policy ruled that no such drinks can carry the ‘gluten free’ claim, given concerns that current testing cannot fully ascertain the removal of gluten from hydrolysed beers.
FDA opts for 20ppm US threshold
In this exclusive interview recorded at DrinkTec 2013, Sylvie van-Zandycke, DSM brewmaster for North America, tells Ben Bouckley how the firm’s Brewer’s Clarex (a proprietary enzyme and stabiliser) allows brands to produce gluten-free beer, and why the firm hopes the TTB may change its stance on barley-based drinks.
Van-Zandycke says DSM welcomed the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) final rule on the use of the term ‘gluten-free’ in food on August 2 2013, which aligned the country with the CODEX Alimentarius standard allowing for gluten-free labelling of products with under 20ppm of gluten.
On August 22 the TTB responded by announcing a review of its policy on gluten content statements in labelling and advertising of wines, distilled spirits and malt beverages.
‘Fantastic for brewers and consumers’
For now an interim TTB policy applies, where brands such as Omission (pictured, which uses Brewer’s Clarex) can use the declaration ‘processed to remove gluten’ with the caveat that ‘the gluten content of this product cannot be verified, and this product may contain gluten’.
But DSM’s Van-Zandycke hopes that the TTB policy will change.
“Now we await the response of the TTB that regulates labelling of gluten-free beers made with barley. We’ll see if they follow what the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has come up with,” she says.
A positive move from the TTM would be “fantastic” for both brewers and consumers, Van-Zandycke explains, giving the latter access to new, more mainstream-style products.
“Now gluten-free beers are typically made with different grains, such as sorghum, rice, corn, millet, with a different flavour profile to traditional beer,” she adds.