The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ruled that distilled foods made from gluten-containing grains can be labelled as ‘gluten-free’, a move welcomed by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (Discus).
The FDA ruling covers fermented foods, or foods that contain fermented ingredients, which are made using gluten-containing grains such as rye, barley and wheat.
According to the ruling, which will come into effect on 14 September, “distillation is considered a process to remove gluten and it is unlikely that residual gluten may be present in the final distilled products”.
As such, producers will be able to label their products as gluten-free without providing detailed descriptions of how they removed the gluten.
Discus president and CEO Chris Swonger said: “We commend FDA for this consumer-friendly ruling that will allow ‘gluten-free’ labelling claims to be included on distilled foods made from gluten-containing grains, and urge TTB to act swiftly to align policies allowing the same for distilled spirits products.
“Allowing distillers to include a ‘gluten-free’ statement on products made from gluten-containing grains will provide additional clarity for consumers to make informed choices about which products meet their dietary needs.”
As the new rule applies to distilled foods, spirits can still only use the gluten-free labelling if they were made from ingredients that do not contain gluten, such as grapes, corn or potatoes. The TTB also allows spirits that have been further processed to remove some or all of the gluten to list themselves as gluten-free.
As a result, Discus is urging the TTB to implement a similar ruling to allow distillers to label distilled spirits made from gluten-containing grains as ‘gluten-free’.
Gluten-free marketing has long been an issue of contention in the spirits world as the distillation process removes gluten from the final product. Health professionals and charities, such as Coeliac UK, advise spirits can be included in a gluten-free diet.
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Author: Owen Bellwood