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  • Scott Adams
    Scott Adams

    American Dietetic Association Revises Its Gluten-Free Guidelines - Distilled Vinegar is Safe for a Gluten-Free Diet

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 12/10/2000 - As reported in Ann Whelans September/October issue of Gluten-Free Living, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) has released the 6th edition of its Manual of Clinical Dietetics, which offers revised guidelines for the treatment of celiac disease. This manual is currently used by hospitals and doctors all over North America, and represents the most up-to-date source of information with regard to the dietary treatment of various illnesses. The new standards set in this publication conform more closely with current international standards. Included on their safe list are items that have been on Celiac.coms safe list for over five years, including: amaranth, buckwheat, distilled vinegar (no matter what its source), distilled alcoholic beverages (including rum, gin, whiskey and vodka), millet, quinoa and teff.

    A team of American and Canadian dietitians wrote the new gluten-free guidelines, including: Shelley Case, RD, Mavis Molloy, RD, Marion Zarkadas, M.Sc.RD (all from Canada and all members of the Professional Advisory Board of the Canadian Celiac Association), and Cynthia Kupper, CRD, CDE (Executive Director of the Gluten Intolerance Group and celiac). Additional findings of this team regarding buckwheat and quinoa contradict what has been accepted as common knowledge for years by some US support groups, mainly that these two grains are more likely to be contaminated by wheat than other grains. In fact, according to the team, buckwheat and quinoa are far less likely to be contaminated than most other grains.

    At the most basic level the new guidelines mean that celiacs do not need to avoid foods containing unidentified vinegar or distilled alcohol, this alone will allow much more freedom when shopping or eating out. Further, celiacs who drink alcohol will have much more freedom and a far greater choice when they want to have a drink. Additionally, celiacs will be able to more easily maintain a well-rounded and nutritious diet because they will have access to a far greater number of highly nutritious and safe grains.

    The ADAs 6th edition of the Manual of Clinical Dietetics represents the first time that Canadian and United States dietary guidelines have come together to create a united North American gluten-free standard, and will hopefully lead to the adoption of a single standard by all US support groups so that hundreds of thousands of celiacs will not have to unnecessarily exclude more foods than necessary. These new guidelines go a long way towards an international standard, which should be the ultimate goal for all celiacs and celiac organizations in the world.


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    As a scientist I would have also assumed that distillation removes gluten from vinegar and alcohol. However my gut feeling is that it does not (I am highly sensitive to gluten). I have puzzled over this and conclude that it is possible for a distilled product derived from wheat to contain trace gluten for the following reasons

    1. The distillation process is not 100% efficient. Boiling a liquid causes it to vaporize, however it also causes the formation of aerosols (tiny droplets of liquid). These aerosols have the potential to carry gluten into the distilled product. Anyone who has worked in a laboratory will known it is standard practice to distill water twice because one round of distillation is only partially effective.

    2. Gluten has unusual solubility, being insoluble in water and highly soluble in alcohol. I believe it is also highly soluble in acid. Alcohol and vinegar are prepared from the starch fraction of wheat, which is known to contain residual gluten. This gluten probably concentrates in alcohol and vinegar because they render it highly soluble.

    The only way to demonstrate that vinegar and alcohol derived from wheat are safe for celiac disease patients is to perform a clinical trial which includes patients of all degrees of sensitivity. This has never been done and is logistically daunting.

    Gluten detection methods have shortcomings which mean that they cannot on their own be used to declare a food safe (I have written a peer-reviewed journal article available in PubMed on this subject Lester DR (2008) Gluten measurement and its relationship to food toxicity for celiac disease patients. Plant Methods. 2008 Oct 28;4:26).

    My impression is that there is sufficient anecdotal evidence from forums within celiac disease support groups to raise doubt about alcohol and vinegar, at least for sensitive patients. I am surprised that dietitians can declare a foodstuff ‘safe' on an evidence base that does not include clinical trials!

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    These comments confirm what my "gut" has been telling me in contradiction to those who insist distilled items can't possibly contain gluten. I've learned to trust my gut even when I can't provide a scientifically acceptable reason - the consequences are too severe to do otherwise.

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    I think it is not good common sense, as many articles point out, to go off what one celiac says about how a certain food makes them feel. I recently was diagnosed and my biopsy revealed that I had 3C damage (according to the Marsh classification system), which is serious damage. I've now been gluten free for about 5 months and I have no problems whatsoever with any vinegars. I try not to by the cheapest, mass-produced kind because of ingredients added after distillation, but still I've not had a single problem with balsamic, red wine, or apple cider vinegars. (I don't use white vinegar myself when cooking but have eaten some prepared/processed foods with that listed as an ingredient).

    I just read somewhere that vinegar listed as an ingredient is usually apple cider vinegar. It doesn't sound like any of the vinegars you're eating are made from wheat.

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    Guest Judith nurse and celiac

    Posted

    I think people should continue to check with the companies of the products they want to consume. I also think that individuals should have an open mind to the evolution of the disease. There are many opinions fact based, science based, life experience based as to what is safe and not safe. Have common sense people don't eat it if it makes you sick but please don't disregard the possibilities for others just because you can't have it.

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    I have been struggling for years now and realize that I have celiac or something very close. I cannot eat any animal source proteins nor the traditional foods associated with celiac. I am feeling better after about a week but I haven't weeded out all the offending foods yet. This site will be wonderful in the future.

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    I understand about some can have it and some can't. I have a family coming to visit who are celiac. I would sure hate to take a chance with their well-being. Experience is also a fact. Science is based on numbers and numbers can be skewed. I'll stick with non-grain based vinegars to be safe.

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    Obviously, if you have a problem with distilled alcohols, don't drink them. But as a distiller of alcohol, here are some facts that the doctor above is unaware of: Only a small number of the bourbons distilled have any fraction of wheat in the mash (the fermented portion that goes into the still), though they do contain corn and usually barley. When distilling alcohol, the mash in never boiled, ever; as far as I know, it is all either reflux distilled (preventing anything from carrying over to the finished product), or at least double distilled through a pot still; commercial stills are so large and constructed in such a way that the chances of aerosols crossing over to a finished product is virtually eliminated (besides that, it is not boiled during the distillation process--there is a controlled heating of the mash throughout the distillation process stopping well before the boiling point). If you want to know if a beverage contains wheat, chances are a letter, email, or phone call to the distillery explaining why you need to know will give you an answer.

    Hole this helps-----JL--

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    Actually the answer here is very simple. The AMA does not accept the validity of Homeopathy and it sounds as though the American Dietetic Association (ADA) does not either. However, millions of people world wide continue to use homeopathic remedies because they work. Grain alcohol and vinegar, considering the gluten content, both are not even close to the low levels of active ingredients found in most homeopathic remedies. Also, according to Homeopathic principles, a very low dose of an agent will have an exaggerated effect over a dose of the pure agent. Thus many people has very different reactions, often more sudden and violent, to spirits and vinegar than they do to eating the products containing the grains.

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    For celiac vodka lovers: Tito's Vodka in the US is made from corn, and Luksosowa in Poland is made from Potatoes. This made a big difference in my life.

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    Obviously, if you have a problem with distilled alcohols, don't drink them. But as a distiller of alcohol, here are some facts that the doctor above is unaware of: Only a small number of the bourbons distilled have any fraction of wheat in the mash (the fermented portion that goes into the still), though they do contain corn and usually barley. When distilling alcohol, the mash in never boiled, ever; as far as I know, it is all either reflux distilled (preventing anything from carrying over to the finished product), or at least double distilled through a pot still; commercial stills are so large and constructed in such a way that the chances of aerosols crossing over to a finished product is virtually eliminated (besides that, it is not boiled during the distillation process--there is a controlled heating of the mash throughout the distillation process stopping well before the boiling point). If you want to know if a beverage contains wheat, chances are a letter, email, or phone call to the distillery explaining why you need to know will give you an answer.

    Hole this helps-----JL--

    Mr. London, Thank You I'm a Gin lover. Wish I could find some that is made from juniper berries and corn. I know it is distilled. However, the Gin Bombay bottle claims that some Gin is distilled by boiling and others, are distilled by steam and vapor. Would one process be more gluten-free than the other? Last, celiacs are effected by the protein absorbed from wheat, barley, and rye. Does anybody know how to make beer form arrow root flour?

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    I recently found out I am allergic to wheat/gluten. I break out all over in an itchy rash. I am new to this and am learning that there are "hidden" gluten in things. I would have a reaction to mayo, but thought it was eggs. Then last night I ate a taco sauce that had distilled vinegar in it and broke out in a rash. That's how I found out about the distilled vinegars. I am so thankful I found this site. It makes me feel better knowing that I'm not the only one that is bothered by the vinegars, since a lot of places state that they are gluten free.

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    I seem to do ok with vinegar, but I usually use apple cider vinegar, so maybe that's why. I make my own salsa at home using ACV too. I did notice that I still had problems with vodka and whiskeys and other alcohols, so I avoid them now. I only drink gluten free beer, wine, tequila, and rum. Much better!

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  • About Me

    Celiac.com's Founder and CEO, Scott was diagnosed with celiac disease  in 1994, and, due to the nearly total lack of information available at that time, was forced to become an expert on the disease in order to recover. Scott launched the site that later became Celiac.com in 1995 "To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives."  In 1998 he founded The Gluten-Free Mall which he sold in 2014. He is co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.

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