For the last several years we have been discussing in the celiac community fermented and hydrolyzed products that claim “gluten removed”, but how do we know that they’re safe since there is no reliable test for them?

New research from the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) and the University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center looks at this question in “The Celiac Patient Antibody Response to Conventional and Gluten-Removed Beer”, which was recently published in the Journal of AOAC International.

Studying gluten removed, fermented and hydrolyzed products

“The goal of this study was to determine if the antibodies of active celiac patients might present an alternative way to detect residual gluten peptides in fermented or hydrolyzed foods, since current test methods are unreliable, ” Laura Allred of GIG told me in an email response. In other words, the research team looked blood samples to see whether the antibodies of people with celiac reacted to fermented and hydrolyzed products that claim “gluten removed”.

The most popular and divisive fermented and hydrolyzed product in the gluten-free community is gluten-removed beer. Because there is no reliable gluten test for these products, the community can only rely on the information the manufacturer provides and trying it on their own (which really isn’t the healthiest option). That is why researchers used this type of product as a first step in learning more. They only tested one gluten-removed beer whose brand was not mentioned in the study.

Allred said the study wan’t meant to make a statement about the gluten-removed beer industry, however the study had some interesting results, “Some active celiac patients had antibodies that recognized the remaining proteins in this one GR beer, so that does indicate that not all beers in this category should be assumed to be safe, and that’s something the gluten-free community should be aware of,” Allred explained.

What’s next?

This study was just the beginning, to prove the research concept worked. Now researchers hope to expand to a variety of fermented and hydrolyzed products. Cynthia Kupper, CEO of GIG, added in an article on their website, “Our hope is a bigger study will be conducted to provide an even bigger picture of the possible risk of these products to the gluten-free community.”

If this topic interests you and you would like to learn more, you can check out a free webinar GIG is hosting on the topic on February 23rd. Click here for details.

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