So now we have gluten-free vodka. Seriously. Are the distillers pulling our chain?
[T]he new spirits labeling trend contradicts long-standing advisories from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that all distilled spirits are gluten-free unless it is added after distillation. So is this all a marketing gimmick?
Distillation involves heating, which vaporizes the alcohol as a way to remove it from the mixture. “Distilled spirits, because of the distillation process, should contain no detectable gluten residues or gluten peptide residues,” says Steve Taylor, co-director of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Food Allergy Research and Resource Program. “Proteins and peptides are not volatile and thus would not distill over.”
Which is what I was thinking. But I’m the kind of guy who washes his hair with trans fats, so I’m relatively unconcerned about such matters. Other folks, they’ve got concerns:
A 2011 FDA report, “Health Hazard Assessment for Gluten Exposure in Individuals with Celiac Disease,” recommended the “most sensitive individuals with CD” eat foods with less than one-ppm gluten levels to protect them from “from experiencing any detrimental health effects from extended to long-term exposure to gluten.”
And the “gluten-free” label on vodka only assures 20 ppm or below, consistent with the labeling on other such products.
So this isn’t quite as risible as it could be. Maybe. I know very few celiac sufferers, and in general, they don’t drink a whole lot of distilled spirits.