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Thursday, November 21, 2013
Additional Statements from Celiac Sprue Association Endorsement of Omission Beer
Today, I received two emails from Mary Schluckebier today based on my previous post about my confusion over the the CSA endorsement of Omission Beer.

The first email was in response to my letter to the Celiac Sprue Association Board of Directors. Mary's responses are in red font.

Hello CSA board members

I saw your press release about your endorsement of Omission Beer yesterday followed by an onslaught of Tweets, Facebook posts, and blogs both supporting your endorsement as well as objecting your endorsement. As a lifelong Celiac, I find your endorsement of a product that is derived from gluten very troubling. I have maintained a gluten-free diet since 1981 and the CSA was the very first organization to support my family after my diagnosis. For you to now come out and not only support a product that is made from gluten but to also contradict your very own definitions of gluten is confusing and disappointing. "CSA materials encourage everyone to develop their own definition for gluten-free. For the CSA Recognition Seal there is a definition. When you were diagnosed there was no other management than to eliminated products from the prohibited grains. Now we have DNA and amino acid sequencing of proteins from many varieties of the grains. The celiac toxic fractions of the grain storage proteins are being identified. So now we know it is not the entire grain that must be eliminated.  More  of these products will be coming into the marketplace labeled gluten-free either in the US and already in many other countries."

I have put together a post about your endorsement of Omission Beer as well as evidence that proves why legally this beer cannot be labeled gluten-free by the TTB ("CSA Recognition Seal does not use the term gluten-free; we support the TTB current stance on labeling products using the grains") on my website, Gluten-Free Fun. I encourage you to respond to my post and explain your endorsement to the celiac community that contradicts your own information. I would like to give you a fair opportunity for a public response and with your permission will repost any comments you may have or link back to any statements you make on your own website. ("please check the update date on CSA website pages, we were hacked a couple of weeks ago and some pages reverted to older information. We have caught most but not all old pages.")

The page I continually refer to is the "Defining The Term Gluten Free" page which is linked directly from the CSA homepage. Interestingly, this page has been updated in the hour it took me to put together this post.

I also received this follow-up email also from Mary Schluckebier today.
CSA supports celiac disease management as an exercise in constant risk assessment and personal decision-making. “Risk-free” standing alone in the headline was confusing since CSA Recognition Seal designates the most risk-free choices in the marketplace. Few things in life are risk free.

CSA does not endorse any product. The CSA Recognition Seal does not use the term gluten-free. The CSA Recognition Seal is the highest standard based communication tool currently available to the celiac community.  The licenses must be renewed annually.  All information sent to CSA, from members and non-members, about a product is considered in the annual review. CSA asks the questions and does the digging, you want  us to do. CSA welcomes your feedback  related to any product marketed to the celiac community. (It is still unknown –what part of the prohibited grains sets off the abnormal responses in those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. So CSA would like comments from you too.) 
The final FDA definition for products labeled gluten-free opened up some options that are likely to be more confusing in the marketplace.  Our random checking of products will likely lead to more ways to communicate the findings.  Tell us what you are including in your food plan?  Members of the Celiac Sprue Association know that CSA encourages meaningful, verifiable  innovation in widening the options of products suitable for the celiac diet. Qualifying for the CSA Recognition Seal for Innovative products has more steps than qualifying for the naturally gluten-free category.  In the process CSA gathers and shares information with governmental agencies, including the TTB, USDA and FDA, education based researchers, innovative industrialists and most important the CSA members.

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

I'm sorry to say but I find this response weak. Mary clearly states below that the "CSA does not endorse any product" while their press release says "Celiac Sprue Association Recognizes Omission Beer as Risk-Free for Celiacs." The Google dictionary definition of endorsement is "an act of giving one's public approval or support to someone or something." In addition, I feel that Mary gives a CYA (cover your a$$) statement by saying "Few things in life are risk free." This email doesn't do much for me except for me to reiterate my initial confusion over their "recognition" (ahem) of their "endorsement" (cough) of Omission Beer.

Celiac Sprue Association, you are endorsing, recognizing, publicly supporting, whatever you want to call it Omission Beer with your CSA Recognition Seal and your press release to the world. It doesn't matter what words you use because you are putting your stamp of approval on this product as "risk-free" for Celiacs even though it contradicts your definition of gluten-free, specifically requirement # 4.

I appreciate the Celiac Sprue Association making a statement and allowing me to present this information to my readers, but I still do not support their decision to put the CSA Recognition Seal on this product. I would also like to point out that NEVER once did I tell my readers not to drink Omission Beer. I've received some nasty emails, Facebook comments, and Tweets this past week that told me I cannot tell others what to eat or drink. Throughout the week, I have simply presented the facts and information sent to me from the Celiac Sprue Association as well as highlight public information that is available on their website. As with any product, restaurant review, etc. I put up here on my personal website, it is up to you to make your decisions as someone living with Celiac what goes into your body. Your Celiac is NOT my Celiac and I have never claimed it to be.

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Blogger L.D.the playwright said...

I also find the approval of this beer so contradictory. I can tell you "Barley" is def a problem. It made my Mom very sick, and it should not be consumed by anyone with a diagnosis of Celiac Disease. I wish I had seen this story sooner but felt it quite important to comment! The CSA is lacking full disclosure and I am appalled at their representation, and patronizing attitude.

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