School of Science
Australian Research Council
ARC Number : CE200100012
Gluten content labels inform food choice and people practicing a gluten-free diet rely upon them to avoid illness. The regulations differ between jurisdictions, especially concerning fermented foodstuffs such as beer. Gluten abundance is typically measured using ELISAs, which have come into question when testing fermented or hydrolysed foodstuffs such as beer. Mass spectrometry can be used to directly identify gluten peptides and reveal false negatives recorded by ELISA. In this survey of gluten in control and gluten-free beers, gluten protein fragments that contain known immunogenic epitopes were detected using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry in multiple beers that claim to be gluten-free and have sufficiently low gluten content, as measured by ELISA, to qualify as being gluten-free in some jurisdictions. In fact, several purportedly gluten-free beers showed equivalent or higher hordein content than some of the untreated, control beers. The shortcomings of ELISAs for beer gluten testing are summarised, the mismatch between ELISA and mass spectrometry results are explored, and the suitability of existing regulations as they pertain to the gluten content in fermented foods in different jurisdictions are discussed.
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