The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has issued a revised interim policy on gluten content statements permitted in wine, distilled spirits and malt beverage labeling and advertising. TTB took the action after reviewing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) final rule on the use of “gluten-free” on labels for products within that agency’s jurisdiction with the goal of making its approach “as consistent as possible with the regulations that FDA issued.”Thus, TTB Ruling 2014-2 super- sedes TTB Ruling 2012-2; it remains an interim ruling, however, until “FDA issues a final rule or other guidance with respect to fermented and hydrolyzed products.”
Under TTB’s revised interim policy, “the term ‘gluten-free’ may be used on labels and in advertisements if the product would be entitled to make a gluten-free label claim under the standards set forth in the new FDA regula- tions at 21 CFR 101.91. Thus, alcohol beverages that are made without any ingredients containing gluten (such as wines fermented from grapes or other fruit and distilled spirits distilled from materials other than gluten- containing grains, where such products do not include any ingredients containing gluten) may continue to make ‘gluten-free’ claims in the same way allowed in the new FDA regulations for inherently gluten-free products.”TTB also “expects manufacturers using a ‘gluten-free’ claim to take appropriate measures to prevent cross-contact with gluten-containing grains during production, processing, storage, or other handling practices.”
Products not meeting the FDA “gluten-free” standard, i.e., those containing “an ingredient that is a gluten-containing grain, such as wheat, rye, barley, or a cross-bred hybrid of those grains,” will be considered misleading if carrying a “gluten-free” label. TTB will, however, continue to allow malt beverages to “bear a claim that the product was ‘Processed’ or ‘Treated’ or ‘Crafted’ to remove gluten, together with the same qualifying statement set out in TTB Ruling 2012-2, and upon submission of certain supporting documentation.” See TTB Ruling 2014-2, February 11, 2014.