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Tuesday, November 19, 2013
A Response from the Celiac Sprue Association on Omission Endorsement on 11/19/2013
This morning, I wrote to the entire executive board of the Celiac Sprue Association in response to their endorsement of Omission Beer. You can read my post with links here with links back to the TTB and FDA labeling rulings.

A few hours later, I received this email response from Mary Schluckebier, the executive director of the CSA, about their endorsement.

Erin, Thank you for the opportunity.  I will get a better statement to you tomorrow.  This is and example of innovation and research working. Over the past year CSA received Omission’s application and  has considered, gathered information and research from outside of the brewery and from Omission. We have worked with the TTB. It was somewhat of a surprise that they would be able to earn the CSA Recognition Seal.  I will have some additional statements for you tomorrow.  When the known barley celiac toxic amino acid sequences of the proteins that were in the beginning ingredients are absent as validated by beginning and ending mass spectrometry that represents a product that has been rendered non-celiac toxic.   Mathematically, this would place the product below 5 ppm.

Mary Schluckebier
Executive Director | Celiac Sprue Association
1941 S 42nd Street | Suite 522 | Omaha, NE 68105
Toll Free 877-CSA-4-CSA (1-877-272-4272)   Ext 1006| Fax: 402-643-4108
Cell 402-672-4892   mary.s@csaceliacs.org    www.csaceliacs.org

Well, this is confusing. Mary admits that it is surprising that Omission earned the CSA Recognition Seal and that they need a stronger statement. I look forward to further statements from the CSA and will post to my readers as soon as I have it.

In addition, Mary also provided me with the following information via an email attachment which I have uploaded for public viewing and/or personal download to Google Drive:

Celiac Sprue Association Qualifies Omission Beer
for the prestigious Celiac Sprue Association Recognition Seal

Q&A

How could Omission Beer, made with malted barley, be certified to bear the CSA Recognition Seal if barley is one of the forbidden grains?
We have very strict standards for earning our Recognition Seal, and Omission beers clearly meet those standards. Omission beers have undergone mass spec analysis which we carefully reviewed and the analysis showed that the protein remaining in the product is free of known celiac toxic fractions. To further validate that the enzymatic process eliminates the celiac toxic fractions, the Competitive ELISA testing methodology is used on each batch which consistently shows no detectable gluten.

Previously CSA would not offer its certification to products made from ingredients that contained gluten. What has changed? Are you weakening your standards?

Our standards remain as stringent as ever. Indeed, they are tougher than the FDA's new guidelines. We are ‘celiacs helping celiacs’ and we take our mission seriously. What's changing is that innovation in processes for making and testing gluten-free products continues to advance and we take advantage of the tools and information as it becomes available. We encourage innovation because it creates opportunities for more risk free choices, and better quality of life for celiacs and those with gluten related disorders.

The FDA and the TTB so far have refused to allow Omission Beer to be labeled as gluten free
because, in their view, sufficient scientific validation does not exist for detecting gluten in fermented beverages. Do you disagree?

We have reviewed every aspect of Omission production and testing processes. We tested the product independently, as we do every product under consideration for our Recognition Seal, and we further examined the mass spectrometry analysis conducted on Omission, which validated the elimination of known toxic amino acid sequences.

In addition, we reviewed documentation of raw ingredient sourcing, allergen control and sanitation plans, training procedures for controlling cross-contamination, and an inspection of packaging materials. Based on our review of all of this information, we are confident in our determination that Omission beers meet our requirements for the CSA Recognition Seal.

What's your view of the future of gluten-free designations?
On behalf of those with celiac disease, we support innovation in product manufacturing processes and gluten detection that help provide more choices. Living a gluten-free lifestyle is challenging, and for those searching for gluten free products, the risk of illness is significant. We applaud companies like the makers of Omission for their leadership and commitment to making great-tasting, quality products for people with gluten related
disorders, and for their role in advancing scientifically sound gluten detection methods, such as mass spectrometry.

About Celiac Sprue Association
The Celiac Sprue Association is a trusted source of information about the gluten-free products consumers rely on and enjoy every day. In keeping with its founding principles, CSA amplifies members’ efforts for good health by encouraging quality nutrition, responsible business practices, scientific research, education, testing and outreach. Public health and food labeling policy solutions continue to develop through a genuine partnership with policymakers and other stakeholders. Contact us through www.csaceliacs.org or celiacs@csaceliacs.org.



The CSA also updated their website to include a link explaining the "Interim Policy on Gluten Content Statements in the Labeling and Advertising of Wines, Distilled Spirits, and Malt Beverages"  Based on this link, it looks like you can gain a CSA Recognition Seal even if the FDA and TTB cannot label you gluten-free. Well, isn't that interesting. The LAW says you cannot slap gluten-free on your label, but the oldest Celiac organization in the country says "We approve of Omission Beer, drink up!" No thanks Celiac Sprue Association, even if you are buying!

This story is far from over. I look forward to hearing what else the CSA has to say. They look to be supporting innovation while putting a sensitive community at possible risk of reaction.

I'd like to note that I have gotten a lot of comments and emails today both supporting my post and against my post telling me I am wrong. The intention of my post is to present you the facts as to why Omission cannot legally be labeled gluten-free while giving my opinion about why I think the endorsement by the CSA is poor judgement. Ultimately, it is your personal decision to drink Omission Beer or not. I never once told you not to drink this beer, so please don't email me again and tell me otherwise.  

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