Diet and Nutrition

Are Some Beers Actually Gluten-Free? This Research Says Otherwise

Are Some Beers Actually Gluten-Free? This Research Says Otherwise

Nothing beats a cold beer during summer, but for some time, people with gluten-sensitivity or those with celiac disease had to go without beer or they’d risk getting sick. However, gluten-free beer has come to the market, with the intentions of providing those who do have celiac disease with a drink that they would normally have trouble consuming.

With the increased growth of gluten-sensitivity and diagnosis of celiac disease, the market for gluten-free beer is also growing. Gluten-free beer is now being offered by several brewery companies, and beer lovers with celiac disease or those under a gluten-free diet now have a fast growing number of selections when it comes to beer. Although, with this growth, how can one make sure that those beers are genuinely gluten-free?

The bad news

A beer that is made from grains or rice doesn’t have gluten and is considered safe, however, some beers are made from barley or wheat, and they do have gluten. So, they undergo a process to decrease their gluten levels.

Latest research shows that one method for getting rid of gluten from beer isn't actually working. What’s more, the typical test used to check gluten in beer is also fragmented. Australian scientists are performing a new test to guarantee that those gluten-free or gluten-reduced beers are not harmful to people with celiac disease.

The problem

The new research indicates that gluten reduced beers might still be unsafe for people with celiac disease. But as a matter of fact, there are two problems taking place at the same time.

The first problem is that the procedures brewery companies use may not be sufficient to get rid of gluten from beer. The second problem, according to the analytical chemist, Colgrave, is that the food testing industry standard might not be able to accurately check the amount of gluten in beer.

That test they use is called Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay, commonly called ELISA. The test detects antigens (molecular structures that prompt an immune response) with the use of antibodies. These antibodies categorize antigens by their shape.

Previous actions taken

In 2013, FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) regulated that beer labeled gluten-free or even those that are made from gluten-free ingredients must contain below 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten. Alcohol and TTB (Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau), which standardizes beer made from hops and barley, does not allow gluten-removed beer to be branded as gluten-free. The label should state that the beer was treated to remove gluten, and it must also note traces of gluten may be present. According to Colgrave, ELISA cannot reliably determine the quantity of gluten in beer unless they use a different technology.

The Research

Researcher Michelle Colgrave, with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), deliberates that there is a more appropriate way to protect people with celiac disease. In the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Colgrave presents a new way of finding gluten in beers (especially those labeled gluten reduced) to help breweries produce beer made from hops and barley to effectively remove the gluten.

Gluten, as a handful of fragments called storage proteins, is a source of key particles responsible for developing plant embryos. A small percentage of celiac disease patients get awfully affected when gluten prompts an immune response in their gut. Besides being painful, it can lead to serious problems in the future. People with gluten sensitivity may experience similar symptoms after gluten intake.