Michelob Ultra seltzer is a popular seltzer water beverage made by Anheuser-Busch. As a seltzer water, it contains carbonated water, natural flavors, and no alcohol. With the rise in popularity of hard seltzers and low-carb lifestyles, many people are wondering – is Michelob Ultra seltzer gluten-free?
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can cause negative health effects like abdominal pain, bloating, and fatigue.
Since gluten is found in many beer styles brewed from barley or wheat, there is often confusion about whether seltzers like Michelob Ultra contain gluten. While the alcohol-containing Michelob Ultra beer does contain gluten, the seltzer versions are different.
Beer vs. Seltzer
Regular Michelob Ultra beer is brewed from barley and rice. During the brewing process, the gluten proteins from the barley remain in the final beer product. However, Michelob Ultra seltzer is produced differently.
Michelob Ultra seltzer starts with a gluten-free base of carbonated water and natural flavors. The seltzer does not contain any malt, barley, wheat or other gluten-containing ingredients. The main ingredients are:
- Carbonated water
- Natural flavors
- Sweeteners like cane sugar and stevia leaf extract
- Citric acid
Unlike beer, no fermentation takes place and no gluten-containing grains are used to make Michelob Ultra seltzer.
Is Michelob Ultra Seltzer Certified Gluten-Free?
According to Anheuser-Busch, Michelob Ultra seltzer is tested to contain less than 10 ppm of gluten. Products containing less than 20 ppm of gluten can be labelled as “gluten-free” according to FDA regulations.
However, Michelob Ultra seltzer is not currently certified gluten-free by any third-party certification organizations like the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO).
Products certified gluten-free by GFCO must contain less than 10 ppm of gluten and the facilities must be audited for gluten cross-contamination risks:
For a product to display the GFCO logo it must contain 10ppm or less of gluten, and be made in a GFCO audited facility. Facilities that produce Certified Gluten-Free products are audited for compliance with GFCO standards above government regulations, verifying that they follow industry best practices to prevent cross-contamination with gluten and gluten-containing grains.
While Michelob Ultra seltzer likely meets the <10 ppm gluten threshold based on the company's internal testing, the facilities have not gone through the certification process required for official third-party verification.
Why Certification Matters
For people who are highly sensitive, certification provides additional assurance and risk reduction against cross-contamination. Trace amounts of gluten can still trigger symptoms and damage to the small intestine.
Getting certified requires suppliers to undergo rigorous audits and change manufacturing processes if needed:
During the facility audit,GFCO reviews production lines, equipment, cleaning protocols, testing processes and more. If issues are identified, the facility works with GFCO to make the necessary changes to meet the high standards of GFCO Certification before gaining approval. GFCO conducts ongoing annual audits of each facility to ensure ongoing compliance and rigorously maintain the integrity of certification.
Without certification, some celiac disease experts recommend avoiding products made on shared equipment with gluten-containing ingredients. Michelob Ultra seltzer is produced in facilities that also make beers containing gluten.
Michelob Seltzer and Celiac Disease
Whether Michelob Ultra seltzer is safe enough for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity depends on the individual. Factors like the severity of their condition and level of risk tolerance come into play.
More sensitive individuals may want to avoid Michelob Ultra seltzer due to the lack of third-party certification and production on shared equipment. For people who are less sensitive or do not react to trace amounts, the seltzer may be tolerable based on the company’s internal testing.
People with celiac disease should consult their doctor or dietitian when deciding whether to include non-certified products made on shared equipment into their gluten-free diet.
If you decide to drink Michelob Ultra seltzer despite the lack of certification, taking some precautions can help minimize any potential risk:
- Check the packaging and website regularly to ensure no changes have been made to the ingredient list or production process
- Consume in moderation at first to see if any symptoms occur
- Avoid if you’ve already been exposed to gluten that day from other sources
- Pair with a meal containing fiber to help move contents through the digestive tract faster
Other Gluten-Free Seltzer Options
If you require absolute certainty about trace gluten content, choosing a certified gluten-free seltzer is the safest option. Here are some good alternatives to Michelob Ultra seltzer:
GFCO Certified Seltzers
|Crook & Marker Spiked & Sparkling||Mango, Black Cherry, Lemon Lime|
|Smirnoff Seltzer||Raspberry Rosé, Cranberry Lime, Piña Colada|
|Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer||Prickly Pear, Clementine Hibiscus, Black Cherry Rosemary|
Dedicated Gluten-Free Facilities
Some seltzer brands produce their products in dedicated gluten-free facilities to avoid cross-contamination. Although not certified, these include:
- Spindrift Seltzer
- Polar Seltzer
- La Croix
Based on its ingredients and testing, Michelob Ultra seltzer likely contains very low to no gluten. However, without certification or dedicated facilities, trace contamination is possible.
People with celiac disease or wheat allergy should use caution with beverages made on shared equipment. Opting for a certified gluten-free brand is the safest choice.
For those who are less sensitive, Michelob Ultra seltzer may be tolerable in moderation especially when paired with otherwise gluten-free meals. But paying attention to any symptoms and communicating with your healthcare team is advised.
While not certified gluten-free, Michelob Ultra seltzer likely contains minimal to no gluten based on its ingredients and the company’s internal testing. People who are highly sensitive are safest avoiding it, while less sensitive individuals may be able to tolerate it. Choosing a certified seltzer is the best option for celiac disease. When in doubt, consult your doctor.