Food News

Your Gluten-Free Beer Might Not Be Gluten-Free

Scientists published a finding that all celiacs or gluten-intolerant individuals should pay attention to.

In late-2011, the American Chemical Society released a report in which they broke down the ingredients in beer, specifically focusing on hordein, prolamin glycoprotein present in barley and some other cereals.

What's significant about this specific element? Like wheat, rye, and barley, hordein falls under the "gluten" category.

The scientists decided to test 60 different types of beers for their hordein levels, using ELISA or "enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay."

And what they found was shocking.

The team of scientists tested 50 regular beers, 8 gluten-free beers, and 2 beers labeled "low gluten." They found what they expected for the first two categories: regular beer had high levels of hordein and the gluten-free beers contained less than 20 mg/kg (parts per notation), the industry-accepted standard for gluten-free food items.

What they found when testing the "low-gluten" beers is enough to cause health problems for people with gluten allergies. According to their report, the low-gluten beers contained just as much hordein as regular beers.

Can you say false advertising?

Die-hard celiacs, people who have been diagnosed with celiac disease, are often very careful with their diets and choose to maintain strictly gluten-free eating in order to stay healthy. Thus the majority wouldn't purchase low-gluten beer from the supermarket.

However, many individuals don't have celiac disease but do have an allergy to gluten, manifesting similarly to irritable bowel syndrome with symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and even hives. In other words, highly unpleasant.

It's unclear whether action will be taken against the manufacturers of the low-gluten beer. In fact, the scientists didn't publish the brands in their findings so we currently don't know which ones to suggest avoiding.

To read the full report, click here.
To see a PDF breakdown of the hordein levels, click here.

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Devin Desjarlais