CAMRA, the UK’s biggest organiser of beer festivals, is leading the industry and supporting those with food allergies or intolerances by no longer ordering beer from breweries which don’t list all ingredients.
Following new EU rules introduced less than a year ago which affected allergen food labelling CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale), which organises around 200 real ale festivals across the UK every year, has introduced new measures to ensure its beer festivals are more attractive to the one in five people who have food intolerances.
Tim Page, CAMRA Chief Executive:
“Every CAMRA festival now has full allergen information available to customers for every single real ale on sale, which ensures that somebody with an intolerance to something like gluten or wheat can be sure the beer they are choosing is suitable for them to drink.”
Full information on ingredients required
CAMRA will now only purchase beer from breweries that supply full information on the ingredients going into their beer, encouraging them to tap into an industry that is in huge growth. The ‘freefrom’ market has grown 72% in the last five years and the number of gluten-free restaurant items has increased by 300% since 2011, but the beer industry has been slow to adapt, with just a handful of gluten free beers available.
“We want to ensure festival-goers are 100% confident in the information they are given and the only way to do that is to ensure we have the correct information at every step of the supply chain, from the brewers, to festival organisers, right through to the staff working behind our bars. I myself have a wheat intolerance and find it extremely difficult to get accurate information on whether a beer contains wheat or not, as it is often used in small amounts. Now at CAMRA’s festivals, I can now be secure in my choices.” Tim added
Lindsey McManus, Deputy CEO, Allergy UK commented:
“The food information regulations that came in to force in December 2014 on labelling of allergens in both pre packed and loose foods was a great move forward for those with food allergies and intolerances.
“It’s vitally important that people with food allergies, some of which are potentially life threatening, and for those with ongoing food intolerances, are able to identify which foods are safe to eat.
“Any of the 14 allergens that now have to be listed can be found in the most innocuous of foods, including beer. It’s encouraging to see food outlets such as the CAMRA Beer Festivals embracing the new regulations and understanding the importance of keeping those with food allergy safe and confident when joining in the fun at festivals.”
Information not readily available
Many brewers already have this information either on their casks or on their websites but many still don’t have this information readily available, Greens Brewery who are dedicated producers of gluten free beers and have been producing gluten-free beers for over a decade.
David Ware, Managing Director, Greens Brewery:
“Green’s are the original brewers of gluten free beers and from the outset in 2003 we knew there was a limited, but growing, need for beer drinkers diagnosed with an allergen intolerance to continue a normal life. We have continued to grow the range as more drinkers became diagnosed with a gluten intolerance from barley and wheat, thus providing those drinkers with choice. When the new regulations on allergen listings in pubs and restaurants came into force last December, Green’s were in a good position to reinforce the message that we all had a social responsibility to cater for those with allergy intolerances. Having a few gluten free beers at CAMRA beer festivals ensures that everyone can enjoy craft brewed beers.”
Common allergies and intolerances
The most common allergies and intolerances in the UK are to dairy and gluten, with 4% of the population having an allergy to diary while 33% of the population have an intolerance to it, and 6% of the population are allergic to gluten while 20% are gluten intolerant.
Michelle Berriedale-Johnson editor of Freefrom Matters has been quoted saying, “We’ve got 40% of people out there who may want to come into your pub to eat, but can’t.” This is a large proportion of population that beer festivals are missing out on.
Most beers contain gluten as a by-product of the use of malted barley during brewing, however a number of brewers now produce gluten free ales too, which are brewed using non-gluten producing grains (such as sorghum) or have the gluten removed after brewing.
It’s not just gluten that can cause problems as a high percentage of British beers, CAMRA estimate around 40%, contain wheat too as it helps to give beer a dense appetising-looking head of foam on the beer.
Tim Page, “There has never been more choice of unusual, delicious and sometimes surprising beer than there is in the UK right now. But with experimentation comes a responsibility and it’s important that brewers are making allergen info readily available – brewing with raspberry, cocoa and milk sugars? Sounds delicious, but ensure your customers know about it!”