The other week, Caty posted here about the Canadian debate over whether or not beer should be labeled as containing gluten.
I side with those of you who commented: better safe than sorry. Even if most of us know that beer is not safe for people with celiac disease – there are always newly diagnosed people who might not be so sure. Why take the risk?
As for the argument that it’s like requiring ketchup to have a “Contains Tomatoes” warning – well, to-go coffee cups have a “Hot Contents” warning, so why not?
Unfortunately, the powers that be didn’t agree with us. The Canadian beer industry has won the fight – for now.
Ottowa’s Globe and Mail has a solid article on the outcome of the great Candian gluten-free beer-labeling debate.
Essentially, what it boils down to is this: Canada has enacted some really great, really thorough labeling laws. They will benefit not only celiacs, but people who avoid eggs, fish, and other allergens – whether by choice or because they need to for health.
These laws will not extend to the beer industry. Their lobby was able to convince lawmakers that the burden on small brewers would be unreasonable, especially since (and I’m paraphrasing here) ‘people totally know that beer is made from barley, and barley contains gluten’.
Given that people totally know that whiskey is made from wheat, but whiskey is gluten-free, I’d say this argument holds no water (or any other beverage for that matter).
Celiacs aren’t the only ones who are up in arms about this. An article on Yahoo! Canada explains that many alcoholic beverages are filtered or refined via eggs or fish, and these ingredients are also subject to the new labeling laws (or lack thereof). If you’re curious about these hidden ingredients, you can check out Barnivore.com, a website that lists vegan-friendly alcohols.
What are your thoughts on Canada’s labeling decision?