Currently, there is no Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation that defines the term “gluten-free” (despite the GF communities outcry for one!).
FDA proposed to define gluten free as:
- an ingredient that is a species of wheat, rye, barley, or a crossbred hybrid of these grains;
- an ingredient derived from these grains and that has not been processed to remove gluten;
- an ingredient derived from these grains and that has been processed to remove gluten, if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 or more parts per million (ppm) gluten in the food; or
- 20 ppm or more gluten.
Alcohol Products Made from Gluten-Free Materials
TTB’s position is that the term “gluten-free” will be interpreted by consumers of alcohol beverages to mean that the product contains no gluten. TTB provided the example of wine fermented from grapes, or vodka distilled from potatoes. If there are good manufacturing practices – meaning no cross-contamination, no additives, no yeast, and no storage materials with gluten – a ‘gluten-free’ claim in the labeling of the alcohol beverage will be permissible in the interim period awaiting FDA’s final rule.
Alcohol Products Made from Gluten-Containing Materials
FDA and TTB both assert that there are currently no scientifically valid testing methods to determine the gluten content of fermented products. This includes companies that undertake a process to remove the gluten from its alcohol beverages.
TTB’s position is that these methods cannot be used to substantiate a “gluten-free” claim at this time. Further, a “gluten-free” statement on labeling for a product made from gluten would be misleading.
However, the following statement is permissible: "Processed/Treated/Crafted to Remove Gluten". This statement must be accompanied with a conspicuous qualifying statement informing the consumer:
“Product fermented from grains containing gluten and [processed or treated or crafted] to remove gluten. The gluten content of this product cannot be verified, and this product may contain gluten.”The full interim policy can be found here.
- OR -
“This product was distilled from grains containing gluten, which removed some or all of the gluten. The gluten content of this product cannot be verified, and this product may contain gluten.”
For more information regarding your company's strategy for remaining in compliance with FDA and TTB in order to break into the gluten-free consumer market, contact attorney Jennifer Diaz at (305) 260-1053 or by email at JDiaz@becker-poliakoff.com.