Gluten Free beer has been growing in popularity for the last several years, Fixx Brewing has even made 2 batches, a Sorghum Honey Ale kit beer and our original Gluten Fr33 Anti Imperial IPA. Unfortunatly, not all Gluten Free beers are created equal. A recent study in the Journal of Proteome Research showed that some “Low Gluten” and “Gluten Free” beers weren’t, – and actually contained as much gluten as standard beers (via Philly.com).
How does this happen?
Gluten most commonly associated with Wheat, but it is also in Barley and according to the Reinheitsgebot (aka the German Beer Purity law) you can’t have beer without barley. Without the basic ingredients it is difficult to make something that taste like beer, so sometimes brewers cheat. Sometimes they are confused and think any beer that isn’t a wheat beer is gluten free, or sometimes their gluten free grains are processed with equipment that is used to process their wheat and barley… contaminating the product.
Gluten is difficult to test for in malted products (the process of partially germinating then cooking grains to convert sugars) so brewers might well have been operating in good faith when labeling their their beer. The new test, which was used for this study, changes that.
Who’s fault is it?
Ultimately, it is the brewers responsibility to ensure they are telling the truth on their labels, however if they were sold ingredients that were supposedly gluten free then they too are victims of fraud. There is currently no law or FDA regulation governing the use of a Gluten Free label, and as the food market including labeling is so heavily regulated consumers often assume that the government protects them from mislabeling, but this is simply not true. There are several private organizations that will test and certify a product as Gluten Free, the best known being GFCO, but they do not list any beers, breweries, liquors or distillers on their list of certified products. Now that this new test is available, perhaps there is a new business opportunity for some liberty loving chemist.