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The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax, and Trade Bureau recently updated its policy on gluten content statements on labels of wines, distilled spirits, and malt beverages (e.g., beers) in response to FDA’s 2020 rule on gluten-free labeling of fermented and hydrolyzed foods. To read the ruling in full see https://www.ttb.gov/rulings/r2020-2.

In brief:

1. TTB will allow gluten-free claims on spirits distilled from gluten-containing grains.

  • Details: “TTB will permit “gluten-free” claims on distilled spirits products distilled from gluten-containing grains as long as good manufacturing practices are followed that prevent the introduction of any gluten-containing material into the final product.”

2. TTB will allow gluten-free claims on spirits distilled from gluten-containing grains and containing gluten-free ingredients added after distillation. 

  • Details: “If a distilled spirits product is comprised of a distillate distilled from gluten-containing grains and of one or more protein-containing ingredients added after distillation, the finished product label may bear a “gluten-free” claim if the manufacturer is prepared to substantiate, upon request, the absence of protein in the distillate, the absence of gluten in the added ingredients, and the precautions taken to prevent cross-contact, including from storage materials that may contain gluten.”

3. Beer under the labeling jurisdiction of TTB can continue to be labeled as “Processed or Treated or Crafted to remove gluten” BUT beer CANNOT be labeled gluten-free.

  • Details: “TTB will not approve a label containing the statement that a product is “[Processed or Treated or Crafted] to remove gluten” unless the label application contains a detailed description of the method used to remove gluten from the product.”

4. “TTB agrees with FDA that there is currently no scientifically valid method to quantify the amount of gluten in fermented or hydrolyzed foods in terms of equivalent amounts of intact gluten protein.”

Here is an easy to understand graphic by Holidaily Brewing Company. Beer versus distilled spirits. Shared with permission.