CCA Advisory Committee Submits Beer Labeling Recommendations

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is currently conducting a review of beer standards. Below is the full submission of the CCA Professional Advisory Committee seeking to have beer labelling brought into alignment with other food products.

If you are not a member of the CCA, please consider a membership and donation so that important advocacy efforts like this can be effective. No doubt the brewery industry has deep pockets to fund its continued opposition to beer labelling changes.

Director, Consumer Protection and Market Fairness Division
Food Import Export and Consumer Protection Directorate
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
1400 Merivale Road, Tower 2
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0Y9

 

August 10, 2017

The Canadian Celiac Association appreciates the opportunity to respond to the recent notice of intent to amend the Food and Drug Regulations to update the beer compositional standards. The following outlines our concerns and recommendations:

Allergen, gluten and sulfite labelling
The 1220 — Enhanced Labelling for Food Allergens and Gluten Sources and Added Sulphites Regulations that was passed in 2011 and came into effect in 2012 required priority allergens, gluten sources and added sulphites to be declared in the list of ingredients or “Contains” statement on the label of prepackaged foods and beverages. During the consultation phase, the Canadian Celiac Association, along with many other medical, dietetic and patient advocacy organizations, strongly supported Schedule 1220. However, the Canadian Celiac Association and other groups strongly objected that standardized beer would be exempted from these regulations. Unfortunately, standardized beer did receive the labelling exemption which is a major health and safety concern for those with celiac disease or food allergies as they are unable to discern from the label if the product contains any gluten, major allergens or added sulphites.

This new 2017 consultation on beer compositional standards provides the opportunity to resolve the safety issues for individuals with celiac disease and food allergies.

Recommendation #1

The Canadian Celiac Association strongly recommends that the names of all gluten sources, priority allergens and added sulphites, when used in standardized beers, be declared on each individual container of beer as well as the outside packaging of these products.

Definition of Beer
Individuals with celiac disease must follow a strict, life-long gluten free diet which places significant limitations on food and beverage options. Given the popularity of various types of beer, ale and lager, many individuals with celiac disease are looking for an alternative to gluten-containing beer. The product that they are/will be looking for is one labelled ‘gluten-free beer’.

For beverages fermented from gluten-free grains/other ingredients, the proposed amendments would not permit the use of the term ‘gluten-free beer’ but rather “gluten-free beverage.” This would be very confusing for gluten-free consumers as the term ‘beverage’ could include many different non-beer alternatives such as wine, distilled alcohols, liqueurs, ciders and non- alcoholic beverages (e.g., juice,
milk, smoothies, etc.).

Recommendation #2

To avoid misleading consumers, the Canadian Celiac Association recommends the use of the term ‘gluten- free beer’ for beer-type beverages that utilize gluten-free grains and ingredients such as sorghum, millet, rice, etc. However, there are currently some beers made with malted barley and a special clarifying agent that are labelled “gluten free”. The manufacturers claim these beers are rendered gluten free. Unfortunately, this agent impacts the R5 Competitive ELISA’s ability to accurately detect gluten, thus, a negative test result does not mean the product is indeed safe for individuals with celiac disease. (see references, page 3). It is not known whether these agents can completely remove all toxic fragments from glutencontaining beers and as such, labelling of these products as ‘gluten-free beer’ should not be permitted.

Recommendation #3

Beers made with malted barley and a special clarifying agent should not be lablelled “gluten-free beer” because the clarifying agent interferes with the accuracy of the R5 Competive ELISA that detects gluten contamination.

Thank you for careful consideration of our three recommendations.

Respectfully submitted,

The Professional Advisory Committee, Canadian Celiac Association
Dr. Don Duerksen(Chair), Dr. Premsyl Bercik, Dr. Decker Butzner, Shelley Case, RD, Adrianna Smallwood, RD, Joyce Schnetzler, RD, Dr. Justine Turner, Dr. Elena Verdú, Dr. Jennifer Zelin.

 

References
Tanner GJ, Colgrave ML, Blundell MJ, Goswami HP, Howitt CA. Measuring hordein (gluten) in beer–a comparison of ELISA and mass spectrometry. PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e56452. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0056452. Epub 2013 Feb28.

Allred LK, Lesko K, McKiernan D, Kupper C, Guandalini S. The Celiac Patient Antibody Response to Conventional and Gluten-Removed Beer. J AOAC Int. 2017 Mar 1;100(2):485-491. doi: 10.5740/jaoacint.16-0184. Epub 2016 Dec 16.

Colgrave ML, Goswami H, Blundell M, Howitt CA, Tanner GJ. Using mass spectrometry to detect hydrolysed gluten in beer that is responsible for false negatives by ELISA. J Chromatogr A. 2014 Nov 28;1370:105-14. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2014.10.033. Epub 2014 Oct 18.

Donate your unused Aeroplan Miles to the CCA

Aeroplan

AeroplanThe Canadian Celiac Association has joined the Aeroplan charity program.

Help the CCA go the extra mile for celiac disease by donating your unused Aeroplan Miles. The CCA is hoping to raise 25,000 miles in one year to help off-set volunteer travel and assist with program supplies and materials.

Aeroplan will top up your miles by 10% with every donation, every time.

Click to visit the CCA-Aeroplan donation page today.

Gluten-Free Cheerios Still Getting Complaints

Cheerios is back in the news with an update article from Buzzfeed. According to the article, Celiacs are still being glutened from gluten-free Cheerios that have become cross-contaminated in the manufacturing process.

Gluten-free Cheerios is controversial as it is labelled “gluten-free” but also has a “may contain wheat” statement. The CCA made the unusual move of issuing a special statement to warn Celiac’s not to consume it.

Kelowna Celiac regularly posts Celiac related updates to our Facebook page. The article has received a high number of views and comments. read more below.

Posted by Kelowna Celiac on Thursday, July 6, 2017

Gluten-Free Myths Busted

Source: Newsletter of the CCA Ottawa Chapter

People with celiac are always thin

gluten-free weight lossThis is a serious myth that I know even medical practitioners believe. According to Melinda Dennis, a Registered Dietitian at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre at Harvard, 40% of people diagnosed with celiac are overweight at their time of diagnosis. 4-5% are underweight.

 

I will lose weight on the gluten-free diet

Again, wrong. Overall, according to Melinda Dennis, most patients tend to gain weight when their gut heals and they can absorb nutrients again. Better absorption of food + same caloric intake = weight gain.

 

All of my cosmetics, lotions, hair products must be gluten free because the skin absorbs gluten

No. Dr. John Zone, who is a dermatologist, says the skin has stratum corneum which is like a “Saran Wrap” or a protective barrier to keep gluten from permeating into the body. The same holds true for hair follicles which have a protective barrier. However, a break in the skin will allow absorption.

Gluten-Free Moroccan Travel

Tajine

By Gabrielle Loyer, gluten-free traveler and CCA member

Morocco mapMorocco is an Arab country situated in the north-west corner of Africa, south of Europe. It is 15 kilometres from Spain, on the Mediterranean. Morocco is a major destination for tourism and Mediterranean travel. An estimated 9 million tourists visited the Kingdom of Morocco in 2010. Morocco offers a complete destination for any traveller seeking the sun, the sea, mountains and/or the desert. In Morocco, you see stark contrasts; you can pass by the Sahara with its extreme heat, or head up to the snowy Atlas Mountains with its frigid temperatures. With many cultures within one country, both the population and cuisine are diversified. Moreover, Moroccan cuisine is considered by many as one of the best in the world, with its Mediterranean flavour characterised by a variety of dishes originating in Arab and Berber traditions, complemented by numerous spices. Their food has characteristics similar to other cuisines in the Maghreb region, but while conserving its unique cultural identity.

Moroccan cuisine offers a number of gluten-free choices. Their tajines (stew), based on a variety of meats, such as beef, chicken and lamb, are probably the best choice. Tajine is the traditional plate “par excellence” of Morocco. It is a simple dish, so the success really depends on the cooking method: it must be done slowly so the meats, fish, veggies and spices mingle their scents together. You may be surprised by the sweet and salty tajines, which feature the taste of spices, almonds, and prunes. Served with vegetables, olives and the famous Moroccan eggplant salad (Zaalouk), tajine makes for a fine meal. Don’t forget that a Moroccan dining experience cannot be considered complete without a coffee or a delicious sweet tea, scented with fresh mint.

TajineSome Moroccans speak English, but the majority speak French, and certain Arab words can be useful: wheat (khramèh), barley (zarra), bread (khrobz), milk (halib) and allergic (azèzia). While Moroccans tend not to be aware of celiac disease, they are very respectful and followed our wishes with care in order to avoid cross-contamination. That said, wheat is quite common in Moroccan dishes. For breakfast, the majority of options contain gluten. There’s gheffa, a sort of wheat cake. Harcha is also prepared with wheat. Baghrirs are Moroccan crêpes that locals have with honey, butter or fresh cheese. Bread does go with all meals, but you can just leave it on the table. Moroccan pastries are varied and refined, but unfortunately, they are made with a wheat flour base. In certain spots, though, you can find nut macaroons that are gluten free. To finish off your meal, you’ll always have the chance to sample a nice seasonal fruit, such as melon, grapes, figs, or oranges. And the Moroccan snacks cannot be beat – dried fruit, dates, almonds, pistachios, grapes, apricots and figs. Olive oil and olives play a major role in Moroccan cuisine, and it’s that which gives it the Mediterranean flavour.

It’s possible to find products labelled gluten-free in the special diet section of certain commercial supermarkets, such as Marjane and Acima. The products are there, but there is not much choice – a few chocolate or ginger cookies and rice cakes. At these stores, you can also find some refrigerated gluten-free products like compotes that are labelled GF. Further, the SANTIVERI boutiques (www.santiverimaroc.com) offer a large choice of fresh, gluten-free bread, cookies, pasta and sauces.

The Cuisine Kingdom of Morocco is, therefore, a dream spot for those who love Mediterranean cuisine, with some Arab and Berber. It’s a trip to a world of flavourful and diverse gastronomy, and it will leave you eager to try Moroccan cuisine yourself when you return home.

Besaha – Bon appétit!

Vaccine to treat celiac disease clears first stages of clinical trials

immusant-logo

Contributed

immusant-logoFor a number of years, an American company called ImmusanT has been working on a potential vaccine to protect celiac sufferers from the effects of exposure to gluten and the gastrointestinal symptoms that can result such as diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating.

The Massachusetts biotech firm says it has completed its first phase 1b trial of Nexvax2.

As many of us are aware, celiac disease is remarkable among chronic diseases in that it is very common but has no proven, approved treatment beyond dietary restriction. It affects around 1% of people – though an estimated 90% remain undiagnosed. In most celiac cases, the disease is thought to be caused by a mutation in the HLA-DQ2 gene, which is involved in immune regulation.

Developing effective treatments is important as, despite being on the gluten-free diet, around a third of people with celiac disease still suffer from symptoms as well as damage to the cells lining the intestines – often without even realizing it.

This is rather complex, but ImmusanT’s big idea is to use three “peptides” (an amino acid-containing compound within our bodies) as an immunotherapy that it hopes will encourage the T cells involved in the inflammatory reaction in celiac disease to become tolerant to gluten. After a first course of the vaccine, to induce tolerance, the company hopes that this tolerance can be maintained by periodic re-injection with the vaccine.

It’s a case of “so far, so good”, with the phase 1b trial in 38 patients revealing no concerns about safety or tolerability and showing that the immunotherapy seemed to have the desired effects on the immune system.

The study also allowed ImmusanT to select a dosing regimen for planned phase 2 trials that will see if Nexvax2 can be used alongside a gluten-free diet to protect patients when they are accidentally exposed to gluten, which ImmusanT sees as the quickest route to approval in the United States.

Depending on the results, a follow-up program is planned that will focus on an immunotherapy that could do away with the need for the gluten-free diet entirely. The company is also developing a companion diagnostic for the vaccine which could guide its use and help improve diagnosis rates.

 

Gluten-free diets don’t help people without celiac disease, study finds

CBC Marketplace Gluten-Free

CBC Marketplace is running an interesting segment on how gluten-free diets don’t help non-celiacs.

CBC Marketplace Gluten-Free

Here’s an excerpt from the article.

Gluten-free diets shouldn’t be promoted to prevent heart disease among people without celiac disease, gastroenterologists say after a large U.S. study.

The food industry has stimulated popularity in gluten-free diets. Recognising this public interest, researchers at Harvard Medical School said they wanted to see whether avoiding gluten actually has health benefits for those without the disease.

To that end, Dr. Andrew Chan, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard, and his team used diet and health outcome data collected from 110,000 health professionals over 26 years to link estimates of gluten in the diet to diagnoses of coronary heart disease.

Read the full article on CBC.ca

May is Celiac Awareness Month

National CCA Release

Join the Canadian Celiac Association as we host several public outreach and education initiatives and encourage your support during our donor drive. Our goal this campaign is to raise $45,000. These funds will help us offer member-only education, increase counselling support and develop programs for safer places to eat.

Twitter Party — May 1

  • May 1 we’ll be hosting our first Twitter Party! Join us at @CCAceliac
  • Follow #AskTheCeliac from 8–9 pm EDT
  • Join us to learn more about celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and the gluten-free diet
  • Test your knowledge to win one of 10 prizes including a $100 Catelli prize pack
  • Thank you to Catelli Foods for generously sponsoring this party

2017 twitter party header

 

International Celiac Awareness Day — Tuesday, May 16

  • All federal Members of Parliament will be sent a letter with a Celiac Awareness ribbon and will be asked to wear it on May 16 to show their support
  • Watch your mail for a little something to help us spread awareness in your community on this day!
  • Help us reach our goal of $45,000. Watch your social media, share #CeliacAware and ask your friends and colleagues to donate to CCA.

CCA Education webinar — Wednesday, May 17

  • CCA will be offering two one-hour webinars on labelling
  • 5–6 pm EDT and then 8–9 pm EDT to accommodate time zones

Facebook Day — May 31

  • We’ll be hosting an “AskTheCeliac” Day on our public Facebook page on May 31 to round out the month of activities. Post your questions! Share with friends

Should we screen everyone for celiac disease?

uspstfThe US Preventive Services Task Force recently reviewed all the relevant research on screening for celiac disease to determine if it makes economic or health sense to screen everyone for the disease. They looked at the accuracy of the screening tests for people of all ages and debated the potential benefit and harm from screening.

The conclusion: there isn’t enough information to make a well-supported decision. There are too many false positive tests to make universal screening appropriate, and we don’t know enough about the benefits and harms of a gluten-free diet on someone with positive blood tests but no symptoms.

They did conclude that it is important to test people with celiac-related symptoms and they defined celiac disease as “a multi-system autoimmune disorder which can have both gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea, abdominal pain, and weight loss) and systemic symptoms (anemia, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue, peripheral neuropathy, and ataxia), both of which are improved by following a gluten-free diet”.

That definition of CD alone may remind family doctors that celiac disease is a lot more than just diarrhea. We need to take victories where they come.

Frying wheat products does not make them gluten-free

Canadian Celiac Association New Release

April 3, 2017 (Mississauga, ON.) The myth that frying wheat products makes them gluten-free is endangering people with Celiac disease.

gluten-free fryerPeople often liken the frying process to cooking an egg. In the case of an egg, frying it changes the colour and structure of the egg. While heating gluten in a fryer does change the structure of the gluten protein, it does not make it safe for someone with Celiac disease.

Heating wheat to 65°C (140°F) unwraps the three-dimensional structure of the protein, like it does for eggs, but that is not enough to prevent an immune system reaction for someone with Celiac disease.

The trigger for the gluten reaction in someone with Celiac disease is a very short peptide chain within the larger protein. Peptides are chains of amino acids that make up a protein. The only thing that will break the peptide chain apart and make gluten safe for people with Celiac disease is a complete breakdown of the chain into its component amino acids.

“These peptides are extremely difficult to break apart – they are designed to resist the harsh environment of the gastrointestinal tract,” explains Sue Newell of the CCA.

There is some question about the exact temperature for this complete breakdown, with a suggestion that heating the food to 315°C (600°F) for 30 minutes may be sufficient. At that point, however, the food is inedible.

The Canadian Celiac Association recommends that people with Celiac disease and gluten sensitivities avoid any food cooked in oil has also been used for wheat-based products.