Gluten Free is Big Business. That’s due partly because there are a lot of glutards and partly because some people just think being gluten free is, like, healthy and stuff. But for the folks who really are gluten intolerant, it’s serious stuff. When Widmer Bros. unveiled their gluten-free beer, Omission, it was both hailed and vilified by different camps within the GF community. (Author’s note: I like it. I’m not glutarded. It tastes like beer. My one friend who I know to be legitimately gluten-intolerant loves this stuff.) But here’s the rub:
According to the TTB, wine, beer or distilled spirits “made from ingredients that contain gluten (cannot) be labeled as ‘gluten-free.’” This could spell trouble for Widmer, which has invested significant time and money in a new gluten-free beer.
Being the investigative journalist that I am, I tracked down the TTB’s spokesman to quote on this matter. TTB’s Tom Hogue said that the FDA continues to look into issues surrounding gluten-free labeling and that the 20 ppm of gluten standard is “proposed but not final.” The TTB’s ruling affecting Omission’s gluten-free labeling only pertains to interstate commerce, so beer labeled gluten-free in Oregon could be just “handcrafted” in California, Washington, and everywhere else it will show up.