Sometimes the rise in demand for “gluten free” products helps the Celiac/non-Celiac gluten sensitivity community, and sometimes it doesn’t. However, it has raised awareness for a need for consistent labeling, which the FDA took under its belt early in the past year. Following in the FDA’s footsteps, the TTB (or the “Sin Tax People,” as I like to call them), recently released it’s own labeling standards.
Now, I won’t go into my opinion on either ruling because it would involve way too many conditional statements. BUT, it’s important for the Celiac community to understand what this ruling means.
For those of you who don’t want to read through TTB’s announcement or TTB’s ruling 2014-2 (which supersedes TTB Ruling 2012-2), I outlined the key points of the policy below! It’s an overview on the key alcoholic beverages you may drink, but similar to the FDA all labeling is voluntary, meaning it’s up to the company if they want to label their product gluten free. So, here you go!
TTB Ruling Outline: Gluten Content Statements (2014-2)
- Wine: All wines can be labelled “gluten free” as long as the ingredients they use are inherently free of gluten.
- Note: Wines can come in contact with gluten either from the paste that seals the oak barrels or during the fining process. Wines sealed with gluten-filled paste are still considered gluten free, so if you want to be extra-safe always contact the cooperages or check the product’s website to find out what “gluten free” means to them. For example, Frey wine has both a statement on their website and a blog post about what “gluten free” means to them. Hint: It involves using stainless steel tanks, instead of oak barrels, for fermentation!
- Distilled Spirits: There are two types of distilled spirits: those that are inherently free of gluten and those that are distilled to remove gluten.
- Distilled spirits that are from inherently gluten free ingredients fall into the same category as wine and are allowed to be labelled “gluten free” if it meets the same standards for safe manufacturing as the FDA ruling. These spirits include products such as vodka from potatoes.
- Distilled spirits that are from gluten-containing grains, but are distilled making the product below 20 ppm, may not label themselves as “gluten free,” but may instead be labelled “[Processed or Treated or Crafted] to remove gluten.” AND, they must include a statement that indicates (1) the product was distilled from a grain that contains gluten; (2) the gluten content cannot be verified; and (3) the product may contain gluten. TTB will only approve of this labeling for products that submit a detailed description of their manufacturing process and submission of results from a R5 Mendez Competitive ELISA assay revealing
- Malt Beverages: These products fall under the same requirements as distilled spirits that are from gluten-containing grains. The sole difference is that their additional statement will say that the product was fermented from a grain that contains gluten, rather than distilled.
- Exceptions: Some alcoholic beverages, such as beers that are not saké and wines with less than 7% alcohol content by volume, do not fall under the FAA Act. However, these products fall under the FDA ruling, AND may be called into questioning by the TTB’s ruling as well.
So there you have it, a (somewhat) brief outline of the new GF labeling policy (that is subject to change with FDA policy). What are your opinions?! Also, what are your favorite gluten free drink companies and/or cocktail recipes?
And, as Julia Childs once said “I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food…” So Happy Cooking and (Responsible) Drinking!!
P.S: If you read through this whole article without googling “TTB,” the sin tax people are the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (part of the Department of the Treasury). So, there you have it, gluten free is federal policy, fun stuff : )