Study: Gluten-removed beer may still be unhealthy for celiac disease

Dive Brief:

  • A new study shows that "gluten-removed" beer may not be safe for people with celiac disease, according to a study conducted by the Gluten Intolerance Group and appearing in AOAC International.
  • In the testing, blood samples from 60 people — 31 with active celiac disease and 29 in a control group —were studied to find whether antibodies reacted to proteins from barley, rice, traditional beer, gluten-free beer, and gluten-removed traditional beer.
  • Some of the celiac blood samples reacted to the gluten-removed beer. An email statement from the Gluten Intolerance Group said that lack of good testing methods has kept the medical and scientific community from accepting that the gluten-removed beer is safe, and this study is the first of its kind.

Dive Insight:

According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, as many as 18 million Americans may have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, so there’s been a huge increase in food and beverage manufacturers trying to appeal to this segment with gluten-free foods.

There are more than 30 gluten-free beers on the market and new technologies developed by large beverage players such as Doehler and DSM, brewers can now produce gluten-free beers with conventional raw material such as barley and wheat. However, the jury has been out on whether these beers that are made gluten-free through enzymes and chemistry can meet the standards needed to keep someone with celiac disease healthy.

Infinium Global Research predicts that the global gluten free beer market will increase at a CAGR of more than 40% over the period of 2016 to 2021. This increase is expected to come from more gluten-free craft beers and more pubs offering them. 

The growth of gluten-free beer will be driven by increasing health concerns among consumers, new innovations and products and aggressive marketing by retailers about gluten-free products. However, the gluten-removed beer might only be good for those drinkers who are cutting down on those products because they think less gluten makes something "healthier."

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Filed Under: Manufacturing Ingredients Beverages
Top image credit: Flickr user D H Wright