Government guidelines on alcohol are made in response to evidence about the links between alcohol and risks to our health.
What alcohol can be included on a gluten free diet?
Cider, wine, sherry, spirits, port and liqueurs are gluten free.
Even when a cereal that contains gluten is used as an ingredient, all spirits are distilled during the manufacturing process and this process removes any trace of gluten. Therefore, all spirit drinks (including malt whisky which is made from barley) are safe for people with coeliac disease.
What alcohol do I need to avoid?
Beer, lagers, stouts and ales contain varying amounts of gluten and are not suitable for a gluten free diet, but gluten free options are available.
There are two types of gluten free beer – naturally gluten free and gluten removed. For both types, by law, manufacturers can only label their beer gluten free if it contains 20 ppm or less of gluten (the legal definition of gluten free). In addition, a gluten removed beer made from barley must, by allergen labelling law, state on the labelling that it ‘contains barley.’ You can find out more about how gluten free beer is made and tested here.
You can find a list of specially manufactured gluten free beers, lagers and ales in the Drinks section of your Food and Drink Guide, or if you are a Member, on our online Food and Drink Information and our Gluten Free Food Checker app.
Please remember that alcohol can have side effects whether or not you have coeliac disease. Check out Drink Aware for more information.
This advice has been discussed and continues to be approved by Coeliac UK’s Food Standards Committee, Health Advisory Council and the Prolamin Working Group, July 2020.
How much alcohol?
No one can say that drinking alcohol is absolutely safe, however the new government guidelines advise that you can lower your risk of harm to your health if you stick to the guidelines recommended.
Men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week.
14 units is equivalent to:
- 6 pints of gluten free beer
- 6 glasses of wine
- 14 single small shots of spirits.
- If you do choose to drink as much as 14 units per week, then you should try to spread this out evenly over three days or more. Try to have several days a week where you don’t drink any alcohol and avoid binge drinking.
You should not drink any alcohol if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy.
Drinks with an alcoholic strength by volume (abv) of more than 1.2% do not have to list all ingredients. If they contain an allergen (including gluten containing cereals) they must declare this on the packaging, for example ‘contains wheat’.
An exception to this is that if the name of the drink contains the name of the allergen they do not have to do this, for example ‘wheat beer’ would not have to state it contains wheat. It should however be clear on the packaging which allergens are present.
For drinks with an alcoholic strength by volume (abv) of 1.2% or less, all ingredients must be listed and allergens emphasised, for example in bold. You can find out more information on reading labels here.