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Avoiding Gluten? What does the labelling actually mean?

Gluten-free hamper

For Coeliac Awareness Week we're giving away the lovely hamper of gluten-free goodies pictured above. To be in with a chance to win just retweet this or like this facebook post.

Our guest blogger, Consultant Pharmacist, Sarah Guilford-Jones GPhC takes the mystery out of gluten-free labelling across food and beer products.

Being newly diagnosed with coeliac disease can sometimes feel like learning a new language.

And it is, in a way, with all the technical terms being thrown around, and some sound very similar which only adds to the confusion!

Learning how to read labels on foodstuffs to avoid gluten is an important part of living with your condition. Many people without coeliac disease like to avoid gluten too, myself included, for general health reasons.

In this blog I will break down some of the terms you will see when reading labels on gluten-free beers.

The terms gluten-free and very low gluten are covered by legislation for the labelling of gluten-free foods (Gluten Regulation EC 41/2009) which came into effect in January 2012.

Gluten-free: only foods that contain 20 parts per million (ppm) or less can be labelled as 'gluten-free'.

Very low gluten: foods containing between 21 and 100 ppm gluten.

Gluten absent: no gluten detected on testing (upper limits for testing are those prescribed for the description 'gluten-free').

Gluten removed: made with ingredients containing gluten, and later undergoing a process to break down and destroy the gluten proteins.

Gluten-free beer: brewed with ingredients which may or may not contain gluten.

Those that are brewed with wheat, rye or barley mostly then have a brewing enzyme added towards the end of the brewing process that breaks apart and detoxifies the gluten proteins. Others – like the two Bellfield beers – are produced without the use of enzymes; they have optimized the brewing process to remove gluten at every stage, resulting in certified gluten-free beers.

Naturally gluten-free beer: brewed with ingredients that don't contain any gluten such as buckwheat and millet.

As you can see, what may be simply semantics and pedantry to some may in fact be worlds apart to others.

Are there any terms you'd like clarifying? Feel free to ask in the comments below.

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