Tests Reveal: Gluten-removed Beer is NOT SAFE FOR THOSE WITH CELIAC DISEASE

is gluten removed beer safe for celiac disease?

So I’ve written about beer a lot on my little website here. Search for beer on my site (https://glutendude.com/?s=beer) and you’ll find lots and lots of articles. You may say I have a writing about drinking problem. (Get it? Instead of a drinking problem? My problem is that I WRITE about drinking too much?? Look…if I have to explain.)

So why do I talk about beer a lot? Well…one, I miss it. I was a beer snob when I got diagnosed in 2007 so that was a punch to the gut…and sure pun intended. My first time eating out after my diagnosis, I went to PF Chang’s (here is why I stopped going there) and saw they had gluten-free beer. What??? It was called Red Bridge and it was made by Anheuser-Busch. I took a sip and it…um…it….uh….it…um…didn’t taste good. That was my first and last Red Bridge. Then I saw Bard’s in the store and tried that. Sorry Mr. Bard…but hated it.

But then something happened. Something quite magical. Quality gluten-free beer started being produced by brewers who knew what they were doing and who actually gave a shit. It was slow. New Planet at first. I liked it. Didn’t love, but a step up. But now? My oh my…a bevy of quality gluten-free beers on the market. Granted…not always easy to find but when you do…savor it. My favorites? Ground Breaker, Glutenberg, Ghostfish and Holidaily. All exceptional and I tip my cap to the brew masters.

What about Omission and Daura?

Now…you may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned two of the beers most of you probably see the most marketed as gluten-free: Omission and Daura. Why didn’t I mention them? BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT GLUTEN-FREE!

For those new to the ball game, there are beers that are gluten-free, using all gluten-free ingredients and produced in a facility where there is no chance of gluten getting anywhere near the beer. And then there are beers that are gluten-REMOVED. Gluten-removed beer actually uses gluten ingredients (usually barley) and through a method that is not scientifically valid, they say enough gluten is removed to get it under 20ppm. But like I said, it’s not valid. The FDA even agrees and does not allow gluten-removed beer to be labeled gluten-free.

Now the gluten-removed beer companies will tell you that their product is completely safe for those with celiac disease. And sadly, a lot of people in the celiac community are either unaware that their beers are actually not gluten-free, or don’t care because “they wouldn’t lie to me.”

What sucks is that the ELISA test, a mechanism used to test for gluten in food products, was not made for testing gluten in beer. So basically…the gluten-removed companies are saying “Trust Us”.

New test reveals gluten in gluten-removed beer

Which leads us to analytical chemist Michelle Colgrave. Colgrave, a researcher with the government-run Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia, thinks there’s a better way to protect those with celiac. She demonstrated that in a paper in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, where she reports detecting gluten in a dozen beers labelled gluten-reduced with a new kind of test, called LC-MS.

In Colgrave’s experiments, all the beers she tested had been rated by their makers to have gluten levels below 20 mg/kg, according to ELISA. But she found detectable gluten fragments in every sample using LC-MS, and most had much higher levels of gluten than ELISA detected. (source) She says the enzyme treatment used to remove gluten does not seem to be working consistently.

Got that everyone. The method companies like Omission and Daura use do not work consistently. So from a celiac point of view, they don’t work at all.

Please get the word out: People with celiac disease should not be drinking gluten-reduced beer.

And a plea to the companies running the gluten-free exhibitions around the country: Stop inviting these companies to your exhibits. Please! Something tells me it will fall on deaf ear$.

And one end note: As of late 2017, LC-MS has not been validated by the government agencies around the world that regulate food safety. But still, I’m putting my trust in science before I put in companies who are putting profit over people.

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15 thoughts on “Tests Reveal: Gluten-removed Beer is NOT SAFE FOR THOSE WITH CELIAC DISEASE”

  1. This is great news about the new test. There are so many “hydrolyzed” food and drink products out there that are invalid in ELISA testing. Not that ELISA is not useful, just that we need another method for them. I feel very much the same way about Red Bridge, but I wasn’t a beer snob. I just preferred Guinness. Sadly I haven’t found anything with the thickness and darkness that I miss. Maybe they need to start looking at brewing with beans. Miso tastes more like beer to me than some of the GF beers out there. There are tons of beans out there, all ready to be fermented, though, not just soy. I suspect red kidney beans would work, they have the right taste. Or adzuki? Hmm.. wonder if anyone’s tried that?

  2. Angelica,

    Try Glutenberg Stout and Greens Endeavour Dubbel Ale, they are the best dark GF beers I’ve found. Glutenburg is from Canada and Greens is from Belgium and they both are carried by Bevmo and Wines and More. Green’s uses millet, sorghum, buckwheat and rice while Glutenberg uses Millet and Buckwheat instead of malt.

  3. only just stumbled on this site while trying to find out if Omission beer was available in Australia.

    I’ve got coeliac disease and avoid gluten like the plague – if I do have gluten I know about it within the hour, start with the gasiness and go down hill from there.
    Had a couple of stubbies of the pale ale while in the US of A over Christmas was told they were gluten free and didn’t look any further at the time. I didn’t have any reaction whatsoever so it’s disappointing to read this as it is a fairly decent tasting beer compared to the stuff made from sorghum (ie. O’briens) ???

    BTW – US labeling is difficult 🙂

  4. Unfortunately, 40 years of drinking Bud killed my taste buds (no pun) before I was diagnosed. I find Redbridge the best of the bunch, and I have tried them all with the exception of Burning Brothers out of Minnesota and Departed Soles out of Jersey City

  5. I was recently diagnosed, even after finding all of my symptoms disappeared on a GF diet two years ago. I have been telling people for two years that these types of beers are not safe (I had horrible reactions when I tried them two years ago). Yet, everyone says they are fine. Thanks for spreading the word to help people realize they are not safe.

    1. I can say that ones I’ve tried: Glutenberg, Greens, Departed Soles, and Bradley Brew Project have all been better tasting than Red Bridge. Plus, now ciders are hitting big on the market which are an alternative idea as well.

  6. they told me I was fine

    Hi Gluten Dude! I’m really glad you are spreading this news. I wish this story got the same traction that Omission beer gets with their press releases.

    I’m with you and I’m sticking to avoidance. Producers of these products are confusing the market and consumers and reducing options for people with gluten sensitivity and allergy and the very celiacs they claim to have a commitment to. The only thing that makes any sense to me on the entire Omission page are the government warnings at the bottom. Omission seems to still want to change the FDA guidelines for gluten free. They seem to want to do away with what little sense remains. They’re replacing sense with cent$.

    A couple more rants if I may:

    Every comment I’ve read about someone with celiac drinking Omission and having no problem has sounded pretty ‘gluten headed’ to me. This is no laughing matter for me. I suffered numerous nervous breakdowns before I learned I had celiac. The worst experiences were prolonged activities in breweries where I couldn’t focus or even function and didn’t know why.

    Gluten eaters should stop reviewing gluten free beers. I’ll be the judge if it sucks but I’ll still buy it because it warms my heart that someone cares that I get my beer at the end of a days work. For a gluten eater to say a gluten free beer sucks is both heartless and clueless.

    Here’s where it might get weird for some folks. I’m sad that it takes a test to verify what I feel I know already. To try to remove the gluten just because we can see some action take place scientifically does not imply to me an understanding of what celiac and allergy and sensitivity is. I suspect the root problem is with the hybridization of grains and is yet another face of the industrialized maximization and centralization of everything that makes the world a colder and meaner and more brutal place. This is truly my opinion. Yes, I wear Birkenstocks and I bite the hand that feeds me.

    Thank you for providing a venue for me to blow off some steam. I really appreciate your blog.
    Sincerely, they-told-me-I-was-fine

  7. Anyone have any updates at all on Gluten Reduced beers being safe or not? Or any updated information on methodology of “gluten busting” enzymes or anything related to beer? Seems like there is no new information post 2019 that offers any new evidence, testing, etc. etc.

    Have really been craving beer lately, but my options are severely limited in rural Montana… Oregon/Portland looks to have been doing some very interesting things with true GF beer recipes, but they don’t ship to MT…

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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