Wednesday, February 03, 2016

On allergens.

Worst. Pint. Ever.
So, all this allergen labelling eh? We get asked (mainly in relation to CAMRA festivals) to make statements about our beer, allergen-wise.  As we all (should) know, there's now a "requirement for allergen information to be provided for foods sold non-packed or prepacked for direct sale".  This means beer, and applies to us.

Just the other day Becky was asked if isinglass needed declaring - she was being polite on the phone while I was in the background muttering "not fecking relevant", etc. That said,  I recently saw a cask from a local brewer labelled (with enthusiastic, but ill-informed, candour) "Gluten (barley), Gluten (wheat), Fish (isinglass), Sulphur Dioxide" and more.

So, and bearing in mind that I'm not a trading standards officer (or a lawyer), here's the way (we think) it works:

There are 14 allergens that might need declaring:
Cereals containing gluten (that'll be your Barley, wheat, oats etc.)
BUT NOT "Gluten" itself, although you might want to clarify the situation by stating, for example,
Malted barley (gluten)
BUT NOT  wheat and barley based glucose syrups or maltodextrin. 

Crustaceans and products thereof.
Relevant? We don't use chitin based finings, but if you do...

Egg and products thereof.
Anyone putting eggs in beer anymore? We don't.

Fish and products thereof
BUT NOT fish gelatine or Isinglass used as a fining agent in beer and wine.
OK? Because there's no evidence it's ever caused a problem for anyone.

Peanuts (I'm tired of writing "and products thereof", but yes, those too).

Soybeans

Milk
Including lactose, but not lactitol
Oh, by the way, Lactic acid isn't produced from milk.

Nuts
Because peanuts aren't nuts.
See here.

Celery, Mustard, Sesame seeds

Sulphur dioxide / sulphites
BUT ONLY when at concentrations of more than 10 mg/L, which you shouldn't have in beer anyway.

Lupin
I thought that was just plain poisonous?

Molluscs
(including squid ink - I'm looking at you, HardknottDave)


Here's the reference.

So what should that sticker on that cask have said? Well, if that's how the brewer chooses to pass on the allergen info, then "Made with Barley, Wheat" would probably have done it.  We just say it on our website.*

And does anyone need to declare / label Isinglass? No. Isinglass finings in beer are specifically excluded from the labelling requirement. You may wish to inform the consumer, but please don't say it's an allergen, because it's not.

And what has this got to do with Gluten Free beers?  If they're made with barley and wheat, but processed to remove gluten then you'll still have to label for those grains, but you'd also be able to label them "Gluten Free".
But don't say something like "Barley (gluten)  Gluten Free" - that's confusing, and the point of labelling is NOT to confuse the consumer.


*and, of course, on our bottle labels.






requirement for allergen information to be provided for foods sold non-packed or prepacked for direct sale - See more at: https://www.food.gov.uk/science/allergy-intolerance/label#sthash.gv6Xe4cW.dpuf
requirement for allergen information to be provided for foods sold non-packed or prepacked for direct sale - See more at: https://www.food.gov.uk/science/allergy-intolerance/label#sthash.gv6Xe4cW.dpuf
requirement for allergen information to be provided for foods sold non-packed or prepacked for direct sale - See more at: https://www.food.gov.uk/science/allergy-intolerance/label#sthash.gv6Xe4cW.dpuf
requirement for allergen information to be provided for foods sold non-packed or prepacked for direct sale - See more at: https://www.food.gov.uk/science/allergy-intolerance/label#sthash.gv6Xe4cW.dpuf

6 comments:

RoyDelMundo said...

Agreed, Isinglass is not an allergen but is from an animal
and do you really want dead animal products in your beer,
or even involved in the beer making process?
A small "vegan" on the label would help.

StringersBeer said...

For sure - there's lots of people wanting to avoid animal products and we do produce vegan friendly beers which we label appropriately (Our stouts and our bottle-conditioned beers). It's best to assume that unless beers are labelled as suitable for vegans then they're not. Isinglass is more widely used than some people suppose (and has been for hundreds of years). Personally I'm all for un-fined beers, but the wider market doesn't agree with me.

RoyDelMundo said...

In Barcelona people are suspicious of fined beer, because it looks chemical...

StringersBeer said...

Damn those chemicals. None of those vegans wearing plastic shoes then?

RoyDelMundo said...

The vegans know its 95% H2O, but the beer hipsters, who will pay 10 quid a pint (in Spain with almost zero alcohol tax and 10% vat) for ice cold Mikkeller don't..

Dave Bailey said...

That squid ink thing was before the labelling thing became law fro beer. As it turned out to be possibly the daftest thing we did, and will not be repeating the experiment, it's not an issue. Just saying.

We should make a lot more effort to label up the beers that are vegan friendly. Just about all our bottled and kegged beers are exactly that, but wanted to be absolutely sure we're squeaky clean. (things like squid ink kind of got in the way there) - I think enough time has elapsed since we put any such stuff in bottle that we are probably very safe.

Now, the real problem I'll have when I decide to do so will be not making some big deal about dead fish and how it relates to cask beer, you should always be thinking about the PR angle you know.....

Good post though, nicely distilling the key points.