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Sunday, June 09, 2013

The O on Gluten-Free

Brent Hunsberger has a really nice piece in today's Oregonian on the legal issues surrounding Omission and gluten-free beer.  As you may recall, Craft Brewers Alliance uses an enzymatic process to remove gluten from regular barley-malt beer.  The process removes enough gluten to be considered "gluten-free" by some authorities, but the feds are still deliberating about Omission. 
But scientists say the test doesn't detect all potentially harmful gluten fragments. Recent tests by Canada's public health agency found gluten fragments in beers from Spain and Belgium that use a gluten-removal process similar to Craft Brew's. It's unclear whether the fragments are a health concern, Health Canada spokeswoman Blossom Leung said via email. 
The debate goes on (check the comments for a sample).  One surprising thing Hunsberger noted was this:
Nearly two in 10 adults buys or eats food tagged "gluten-free," sometimes just to support gluten-intolerant friends or family, the market research firm says. 
Twenty percent?  A lot more than a niche market is at stake--that could ultimately account for millions of barrels of beer.  The fortunes of Omission and breweries like Harvester (100% gluten-free; no gluten-based grains used) hang in the balance.

3 comments:

Shawn Bernard said...

20% of whom? Southeast Portlanders? No way in hell that 20% of all Americans eat gluten-free foods to support their friends.

Rich Isaacs said...

Maybe they're counting flourless chocolate cakes in their gluten free section?

Peter Olins, PhD said...

According to the latest ruling from the FDA, it is currently impossible to obtain a valid measure of the residual gluten in barley-based "gluten-reduced" beers. We just don't have the tools available to ensure that these beers are safe for people with celiac disease:
http://ultimateglutenfree.com/2013/07/gluten-free-beer-does-omission-beer-deliver-goods-simple-guide-non-biochemist/

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