Questions related to: Can I eat barley malt vinegar?

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Can I eat whey powder?

Whey is produced from milk and does not contain gluten.

I like Juvela foods and they’re not available in the supermarkets. What will happen to them?

We have been talking to manufacturers for many years about the possibility of changes in access to prescriptions and we would welcome better access in retail to all gluten free foods for people with coeliac disease. In the end individual companies will need to make the business decisions on where best to supply their products.

If a product says it is gluten-free on the label, but is not listed in the Directory, can I eat it?

Yes. If a product states that it is ‘gluten-free’, it will be suitable for a gluten-free diet.

Are the products listed in the vegetarian chapter suitable for a vegan diet?

The Vegetarian Chapter contains gluten free foods that are suitable for a vegetarian diet. Some products may also be suitable for a vegan diet, please refer to the manufacturer.

How can beer be certified as gluten free?

There are currently two ways to manufacture gluten free beer. The first is to use a malt made from cereals or pseudocereals that are naturally gluten free, for example sorghum, millet, buckwheat, rice, quinoa or maize. The second method is to produce a beer using a gluten containing malt (wheat, barley or rye), and then introduce a process to reduce the gluten content. One way of doing this is to use an enzyme at the start of the fermentation process to break down the gluten protein. An example of this is the patented product Brewers Clarex® (also used to reduce the chill haze in beer). This protease enzyme degrades the gluten to levels below the 20 ppm threshold for labelling gluten free.

Manufacturers can only label their beer gluten free if it meets the necessary standard with a level of gluten that is less than 20 ppm. The current CODEX recommended laboratory test to assess the amount of gluten in a product or drink is the R5 ELISA  method (both Sandwich and Competitive methods are used depending on the product). The R5 ELISA Competitive method is a more effective method of gluten testing in hydrolysed or fermented products such as beer and this is the one our certification scheme insists upon.

Other analytical techniques, such as mass spectrometry are being explored but at the moment, we don’t have the full picture. The approved method for testing gluten in beers is currently the R5 ELISA Competitive method but the charity and producers are keeping an eye on new global research developments. In the meantime you can identify gluten free beers made with barley as by law the label must state ‘CONTAINS BARLEY.’

UK legislation fully complies with EU legislation but different countries have different labelling requirements set by their relevant authorities.

We will keep our members updated on our further investigations and provide further guidance as required.

What about accidental contamination? There have been recall cases in retail over last few years.

Increase in product recalls reflects increase in product availability in retail and most product alerts relate to mislabelling rather than problems with contamination. Both prescribed and non-prescribed products have to meet regulatory standards and in fact most companies supplying to the NHS also provide retail products. Contamination risks need to be properly controlled regardless of supply chain.

Can I buy a kit to test the level of gluten in my food?

There are companies that produce testing kits to test the level of gluten in ready prepared foods.

These tests are marketed for testing meals in restaurants and can detect a level of gluten of 20 parts per million or less. 

Reliability of these kits should always be considered, not because the kits do not do what they are reported to do, but because the user may not maintain control of the conditions needed for accurate testing. For example, testing a small sample of a certain meal will not necessarily represent the gluten content of the complete meal. It is also important to make sure that all gluten is extracted from a food before testing using the chemicals provided. It is therefore very important to follow the manufacturer's guidance on using the test kits.

More information about testing food and auditing requirements can be found over on our Food Businesses page.

What should I do if my local restaurant hasn’t heard about the law on gluten-free?

Give them more information about the law or pass them onto us and we can help. We have lots of information in our Food Industry Professionals section.

Why aren't naturally gluten free foods listed, such as vegetables, bacon and eggs? Can I eat these foods?

Some foods are naturally gluten free. Foods like meat, fish, eggs, fruit and vegetables are all naturally gluten free and so listing these in the Guide would mean the Guide would be unnecessarily large. We list foods on page 6 of the Guide which are naturally gluten free and produce a gluten free checklist which you may find useful. You can download this from the Gluten free diet and lifestyle section of the website.


All frequently asked questions