Gluten-Free Spirits and Drinks

M. Angeles Bustamante, Edurne Simón


Alcoholic beverages are those containing more than 0,5% (vol/vol) of alcohol. They can be obtained by various processes (fermentation, addition, distillation, extraction, etc.). As there is no established classification of alcoholic beverages, alcoholic concentration is the most commonly used: 1) fermented alcoholic beverages such as beer, cider and wine, and 2) distilled beverages and spirits (higher in alcoholic concentration).

The manufacture of some fermented alcoholic beverages and spirits sometimes involves the use of gluten-containing raw materials (cereals such as barley, wheat or rye). For this reason, in many cases it has been thought that they should not be included in the diet of celiacs. It is also common to add plant material to clarify alcoholic beverages in order to filter or to remove particles in suspension and sometimes malt proteins or hydrolyzed preparations containing wheat gluten are used. As well as this, the addition of flavorings to some spirits is permitted and most of these are obtained from the fermented raw materials. Despite this, nowadays it is possible to find types of fermented alcoholic beverages and spirits that do not contain gluten and are suitable for the celiac population on the market.

As a result, gluten analysis of fermented alcoholic beverages and spirits is often needed to confirm their claim to be the gluten-free. But as gluten is sometimes hydrolyzed, the sandwich R5 ELISA method is not appropriate when foods and beverages are treated with proteolytic enzymes or when they are fermented. In these cases, other techniques such as mass spectrometry (MS) or competitive R5 ELISA have some advantages over the sandwich method.

Palabras clave

gluten-free beverages, beer, spirits, gluten analysis

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