Someone told me Corona is gluten-free….. Is that true??
This is a surprisingly controversial topic – Corona has a very low amount of detectable gluten – 20ppm or less. While the FDA generally considers products with less than 20ppm gluten-free, Corona DOES contain gluten, and is accordingly not labeled in any way that may advertise itself as not containing gluten. Perhaps people with less acute sensitivities have had some success with Corona, but it’s not advisable, especially to drinkers with very serious gluten allergies, intolerances, or Celiac disease.
Why is Corona’s gluten count so low?
High volume beers (Corona, Bud Light, Heineken, etc) tend to use mostly inexpensive ingredients like corn or rice to fill out their beers – which are gluten-free ingredients. The rest of the ingredient bill is typically barley, which does in fact have gluten and is the main reason why these products are unlikely to be safe for celiac or gluten-intolerant drinkers.
Remember that though the FDA might consider items with low gluten counts (20ppm or less) to be technically gluten free, they are pretty strict regarding product labels. Products made from ingredients that once contained gluten, with a few exceptions discussed below, are not permitted to advertise themselves as “Gluten-Free”. This is why spirits like grain-based whiskey, vodkas or gins are not able to be labeled “Gluten-Free” – even if it’s physically impossible for gluten to pass through distillation vapors and into the finished spirit. In general if any base ingredients contained gluten, the FDA considers it too risky to advertise to consumers who might have adverse reactions simply due to the products contact with gluten at some point in the process.
Controversial Gluten-Free Beers:
If you are a gluten-free beer drinker, you might have noticed brands such as Estrella Damm Daura and Omission carry a disclosure on their label that they are “crafted to remove gluten”. These are beers that have been made from traditional beer grains and ingredients and then had the gluten filtered out to an acceptable level, as low as 3ppm. The controversy is similar to the discussion above about the safety of products that are made from gluten-containing ingredients. Some folks enjoy these gluten-removed beers and have no adverse reactions but others do. It’s worth paying attention if you are extremely intolerant or celiac.
My suggestion? Stick to labeled “Gluten-Free” beers and ciders that are made entirely from ingredients that never contained gluten, if you are very sensitive. There is an increasingly large amount of really delicious products out there to explore – why risk it for one that may or may not end in regret?
Aubrie Talarico is part of Eno’s team that answers your toughest questions or curiosities about wine, beer, spirits, sake, and cider. Email questions to email@example.com and read the answers in Eno’s E-newsletter!
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