As of September 4, 2013, the term gluten-free has a new federal definition. In order to bear the label gluten-free, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that a food must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. Gluten is a naturally occurring protein in wheat, rye, and barley grains. A food that is labeled gluten-free, no gluten, free of gluten, or without gluten is misbranded unless it meets the FDA’s new regulation (available here). Beers that are not made from both malted barley and hops, or wines that have less than 7 percent alcohol by volume, are subject to the FDA’s new regulations. Manufactures have a year from September 4, 2013 to comply with the new requirements.
The makers of distilled spirits, wines with 7 percent or more alcohol by volume, and beers that are malt beverages – meaning beers that are made from both malted barley and hops – are not subject to the FDA’s new rule, but must follow the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s (TTB) interim policy on gluten content statements (available here).
Under the TTB’s interim policy, the term gluten-free is misleading when used to describe a product that is made with any amount of wheat, barley, rye, or any ingredient derived from these grains. For producers of wine or spirits made without any such ingredient, the TTB allows such products to be labeled gluten-free if the producer can verify that it “used good manufacturing practices, took adequate precautions to prevent cross-contamination, and did not use additives, yeast, or storage materials that contained gluten.” The TTB requires very specific disclosures for products produced with gluten, but processed or treated in a manner to remove gluten.
The FDA and TTB gluten-free labeling rules are intended to ensure that consumers, especially those with celiac disease, are provided truthful and accurate information with respect to foods and beverages labeled “gluten free.” If you have questions about the new FDA regulations or the TTB’s interim policy, please contact a member of our Wine, Brew, Spirits Group