I had a dream last night. I was at a gluten-free convention. This one booth had two different rice dishes set up for people to taste. I grabbed a fork and excitedly took a few bites of one of the dishes. Only after I had already swallowed did the person running the booth THEN asked me which one I had tried. She had a horrified look on her face and asked me if I had celiac disease because the one I tried wasn’t gluten-free…only the other one was.
But my reaction in the dream was odd. Instead of being angry, I was embarrassed. Embarrassed that I could be so careless; that I didn’t ask first if it was gluten-free. Yet at a gluten-free convention, shouldn’t EVERYTHING be safe for celiacs?
It’s funny I had this dream because I went to sleep last night thinking about Omission Beer and the latest news that the Celiac Sprue Association (CSA) just announced that Omission was RISK-FREE (their words…not mine) for those with celiac disease.
For those unaware, Omission Beer is not a “gluten-free” beer but a “gluten-removed” beer. They actually make their beer with malted barley and then use a proprietary method using enzymes to remove the gluten.
Well…most of the gluten.
Scientists say it leaves tiny gluten fragments behind and that it may not be safe for those with celiac disease. And recent tests done in Canada on other “gluten-removed” beer found gluten in those beers too.
Yet the CSA just gave it their stamp of approval. And I, and a lot of other celiacs, ask why?
Read the following paragraph, taken directly from the CSA website:
Now I want you to read the official press release yesterday from the CSA:
Huh???? Aren’t these two statements in direct contradiction to each other? They won’t give their seal of approval to any product made from gluten yet they give it to Omission??
The CSA clamors that they are stricter than the FDA, yet even the FDA does not allow gluten-removed beers to be labeled gluten-free.
And let’s even throw in a quote from Alessio Fassano, director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at MassGeneral Hospital for Children:
“Negative results on the R5 competitive ELISA do not prove Omission beer’s safety for people with celiac disease. Dr. Fasano noted that ‘the purpose of the R5 ELISA is to test for cross contamination with naturally occurring gluten, not gluten that is artificially manipulated or degraded by an enzyme.'” (Credit: Celiac Community Foundation of Northern California)
So what is the CSA’s motivation for giving Omission the seal of approval? That’s a damn good question. And it’s one I welcome the CSA to answer directly in the comments below.
I really, really hope this is not about money (but really…isn’t it always about money?).
Omission is owned by Craft Brew, a publicly traded company with 2012 sales over $180 million, but whose sales have been dipping.
And though the CSA says they are non-profit, they send out media kits to various gluten-free companies asking for sponsorship, including a “$10,000 Diamond Level”.
This level is for, and I quote, “…marketing innovators who define themselves as leading-edge thinkers and dare to go where others have not traveled.”
It makes me skeptical…I’ll leave it at that.
Here’s what I don’t get. There are some amazing gluten-free beers out there. New Planet, Harvester Brewing, Glutenberg and a host of others are making phenomenal strides in creating awesome beer that is not made with any gluten. These are the companies that we should be supporting!
Why does Omission feel the need to create beer with barley? So celiacs can feel like they’re drinking “real” beer??
Honestly, we don’t need it. We understand we have an autoimmune disease that makes us change the way we look at food.
We don’t need exact replacements if there is even the slightest risk that it jeopardizes our health. Why can’t these companies understand this??
Naturally, the damage is already being done. It’s all over Twitter that Omission Beer is now safe for celiacs and Omission is keeping busy cleansing the negative comments off their Facebook page.
And I know I’ll get slammed by many for this blog post as there are tons of celiacs totally celebrating this “great news”.
Bring it on. I welcome all parties involved to have an open, honest discussion below.