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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Are Canadians on the Warpath Against European Gluten-Free Beer Standards?

      Are Canadians starting a gluten-free war against certain EU beers?


    Caption: Are the Canadians pushing back against EU standards for gluten-free beer? Photo: CC--Estrella Damm

    Celiac.com 06/06/2017 - Word from the Great White north is that the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) is preventing the sale of Estrella Damm Daura, following a warning from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

    The SLGA, according to the company's website, is "a Treasury Board Crown Corporation responsible for the distribution, control and regulation of beverage alcohol in Saskatchewan. SLGA operates 75 retail liquor stores and there are approximately 600 private liquor retailers throughout the province."

    According to statements by SLGA spokesman David Morris, the CFIA advised SLGA and other liquor jurisdictions to "put the product on hold" last month over concerns that Daura Damm was brewed with products that contain gluten. Any decision by the SLGA to discontinue sales of Damm Daura would likely impact large numbers of customers in the region. It may also impact similar products from the EU.

    Brewed in Spain by S.A. Damm, using traditional barley ingredients, Estrella Damm Daura is filtered to reduce its gluten content to levels well below the 20 ppm required for products labeled gluten-free. S.A. Damm's company website says that "All batches are analyzed and certified by the CSIC before hitting the market," and that the company guarantees Daura Damm's gluten content is three parts per million or fewer.

    EU gluten-free standards permit any finished product below 20ppm gluten content to be labeled gluten-free. Canadian standards prohibit any product made with gluten-containing source ingredients from being labeled as gluten-free. Therein lies the apparent rub. Under EU standards, Estrella Damm Daura qualifies as a gluten-free beer. Under Canadian standards, it does not.

    No word yet on whether Canadian trade agreements make exceptions for EU products, such as beer.

    Meanwhile, potential beneficiaries are Canadian breweries, such as Rebellion Brewing Co., a Regina-based brewery that uses locally grown lentils to make its celiac-friendly Lentil Cream Ale.

    Rebellion brewmaster Mark Heise says SLGA's decision to cease ordering Estrella Damm Daura could be a "massive" opportunity. "It's huge for us," he says.

    No word yet on how far the Canadian authorities will go in their efforts to enforce their gluten-free standards against EU products, but they may have just fired the first shot. Stay tuned for more on these and other gluten-free stories as they develop.

    Read more at TheStarPhoenix.com


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    This more clearly answers a question I had about Guinness. I sent them an email inquiring if they were gluten free or not, after reading on a forum where some people are saying it is and some are saying it is not. I am new to this whole celiac thing and am learning daily. Still have a long way to go though I'm afraid.

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    Guest Maureen Sullivan

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    This sounds like the Canadian breweries are on a witch hunt to benefit their wallets. Although some Celiac people take exception to the gluten filtration process that reduces the gluten to below 20ppm, others have no issue with it and enjoy being able to drink a 'real' beer, or as close as you can come to it. Also, Estrella clearly informs the consumer of its brewing process, as do many other brewers. If you've ever tasted sorghum or lentil 'beers', you would appreciate the availability of a product like Damm Daura.

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    Gluten-reduced beers are permitted to be sold in Canada, but they can not carry a gluten-free claim and they must carry the disclaimer "This product is fermented from grains containing gluten and [processed or treated or crafted] to remove gluten. The gluten content of this product cannot be verified, and this product may contain gluten". The trigger for the removal of Damm Daura in Saskatchewn is the words "gluten free" used on the product. This beer is still available in other provinces and can be returned to the shelves in Saskatchewan once the labeling is corrected. (http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/labelling/food-labelling-for-industry/allergens-and-gluten/eng/1388152325341/1388152326591?chap=2#s5c2)

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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