Q:I have celiac disease and like to have a beer occasionally. How is this research study relevant to me?
A: These results indicate that beers labeled “gluten-removed” may not be safe for those with celiac disease.
Q:What’s the difference between “gluten-free” (GF) and “gluten-removed” (GR) beer?
A: A gluten-free (GF) beer uses grains that naturally are free of gluten (for example, sorghum or brown rice) in the fermentation process. So, the beer does not have any gluten in it from start to finish. A gluten-removed (GR) beer uses wheat, barley, or rye to ferment and make the beer, which then undergoes a process to remove the gluten. This involves using enzymes to break down gluten into smaller fragments which, theoretically, would not induce an immune response in the person who drinks it.
Q: Can gluten really be removed?
A: The effectiveness of “removing” gluten by breaking it down into smaller fragments has not been validated or accepted by the scientific and medical communities. This is because currently available gluten testing methods are not sufficiently reliable/accurate when it comes to fermented and hydrolyzed products.
Q: How did this study determine that “gluten-removed” beer may not be safe for people with celiac disease?
A: This study used blood samples from individuals with celiac disease, to see whether the two types of beer induced an immune response in the blood samples. It was found that no persons with celiac disease had an immune response to the GF beer. However, some persons with celiac disease did have an immune response to the GR beer. This research suggests that in some gluten-removed beers, protein fragments may remain after processing that could cause a gluten reaction.
Q: Does this study have implications regarding the future of assessing safety of “gluten-removed” beers?
A: These results indicate that utilizing blood samples from individuals with celiac disease may be a valid and useful method for assessing presence of gluten.