TTB Protects Beer Drinkers with New Gluten-Free Ruling

Earlier this week the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) updated its policy on gluten-free beer labeling. This ruling is in response to the August 2013 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruling on gluten-free foods. The FDA plans to issue a follow-up ruling on fermented beverages and the TTB has indicated that it will wait until then to issue its final ruling.

The most recent ruling, TTB 2014-2, supercedes their May 2012 ruling, TTB 2012-2. In it, they uphold their stance on gluten-free beer labeling, which is consistent with the one proposed by the FDA in August 2013. It states that fermented beverages made from naturally gluten-free grains may continue to utilize the label “gluten-free” as long as they ensure that cross-contact with gluten does not occur in the supply chain or in the manufacturing processes.

They also state that it is misleading for manufacturers who utilize gluten-containing grains, such as wheat, barley, and rye, to label their products “gluten-free.” Neither the TTB nor FDA feel that there are any reliable testing methods for beers made from barley, wheat, and rye. Gluten that has been hydrolyzed, or broken down, during the fermentation process does not show up in testing of the finished product, as we’ve discussed in our previous posts. The TTB states that gluten-reduced beers made from wheat, barley, and rye must use the statement “Crafted to remove gluten.”

At Aurochs, we support the TTB’s ruling, and believe that the safest method to ensure a truly gluten-free product is to start with naturally gluten-free grains and to ensure that cross-contamination does not occur at any stage of the process. We test all of our grains upon arrival at the brewery and brew in a dedicated environment and all of our beers use naturally gluten-free ingredients, like millet and quinoa in our flagship White Ale.

One trick for gluten-free consumers trying to look for naturally gluten-free beer is to look at the label. Aside from the distinction of “gluten-free” and “crafted to remove gluten,” all naturally gluten-free beer is dually governed by the TTB and the FDA. Unlike regular beer, which is only governed by the TTB, naturally gluten-free beers, including beers made from millet, quinoa, sorghum, and other gluten-free grains are required to list their ingredients on their label. Beers made from barley do not have this same restriction.

The latest TTB ruling is great for consumers as it confirms that the government is working to ensure that gluten-free consumers can enjoy their beer safely.