TTB’s Interim Ruling on Gluten-Free Labeling of Alcoholic Beverages (11 February 2014)

On February 11, 2014, the Department of Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) released a Revised Interim Policy on Gluten Content Statements in the Labeling and Advertising of Wine, Distilled Spirits, and Malt Beverages

In line with the final ruling by the FDA on the use of gluten-free claims on food labeling, the TTB has adopted an approach on this issue “that is as consistent as possible with the regulations that FDA issued”.

“Truthful, accurate, and non-misleading gluten content statements, in accordance with this ruling, are permitted on labels and in advertisements for alcohol beverage products regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). TTB may modify the interim guidance provided in this ruling when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issues further guidance or final regulations on use of the term “gluten-free” on labels of fermented foods”.

For now, it will be considered misleading for any alcohol beverage made from gluten-containing grains (wheat, barley or rye) or their derivatives, to contain a gluten-free label.

When the FDA issues a final rule with respect to fermented or hydrolyzed products, the TTB will evaluate whether “the interim policy set forth in this guidance should be revised. Industry members are reminded that it will be their responsibility to make appropriate revisions to their labels and advertisements in that event.”

The TTB is superseding TTB Ruling 2012–2 with the revised policy, but designating the policy as “interim” because they may revise it after FDA issues a final rule or other guidance with respect to fermented and hydrolyzed (i.e. ‘Crafted to Remove’) products.

Highlights of the Interim Ruling:

“Many alcohol beverages subject to the FAA Act are produced without any ingredients that contain gluten. For example, a wine fermented from grapes, or a vodka distilled from potatoes, may not contain any gluten if the producer used good manufacturing practices, such as taking adequate precautions to prevent cross-contact, and did not use additives, yeast, or storage materials that contain gluten. Under the interim policy, TTB allowed the use of a “gluten-free” claim in the labeling and advertising of such products. TTB reminded industry members that it would be the responsibility of the
importer or bottler of the product to ensure that the claim is truthful and accurate.”

“TTB 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.

Regarding alcohol beverages made from gluten-containing grains but processed, treated, or crafted to remove the gluten, basically the the TTB maintains the status quo/current policy (TTB Ruling 2012-2) “pending further rulemaking”.  As such, “Although products made from gluten-containing grains may not bear a gluten-free label claim, as set forth in the below holdings, TTB will continue to allow labels for such products 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. We note that the preamble to the FDA final rule explicitly states that any producers of beer that is subject to FDA labeling regulations and made from a gluten-containing grain “are not precluded from using other statements on the label, such as a gluten statement consistent with the TTB guidance, about processing of beers to reduce gluten.” See 78 FR 47166. Thus, TTB will continue to allow such statements on labels and in advertisements pending completion of rulemaking by FDA. It remains TTB’s policy that other claims about gluten content are prohibited if such statements are untrue in any particular or tend to create a misleading impression. TTB will evaluate such statements on a case-by-case basis, and may require a disclaimer or some other qualifying statement to dispel any misleading impression created by any health-related statements. See 27 CFR 4.39(h), 4.64(i), 5.42(b)(8), 5.65(d), 7.29(e), and 7.54(e).” (Please read pages 7, 8 & 9 of Interim Ruling for more detailed information on this).

Questions? Contact the TTB:

Toll free at 866–927–ALFD (2533)

Fax 202–453–2984

Email at


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