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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Are Oats Gluten Free? Info about Oats on a Gluten Free Diet

Are Oats Gluten Free?

Are Oats Gluten Free? This is a subject with a lot of confusion here in Australia - so I thought I'd share some information with you to clear things up. 

As you may have already seen, many of the recipes on Southern In-Law use Gluten Free Oatmeal - but I'm a coeliac - and a very sensitive one at that. For years the Coeliac Society have been telling us that Oatmeal is not gluten free - and whilst they're partially right, there's not complete truth behind that statement. 

What is the difference between oat gluten and other types of gluten?
If the question is, Do Oats Contain Gluten? The simple answer is yes - but oats contain a different type of gluten to other gluten grains such as wheat, barley, rye, triticale and spelt.

One in Five Coeliacs cannot tolerate oats - Are Oats Gluten Free?

It was previously said that One in Five Coeliacs (that's 1 in 10,000 Australians) cannot tolerate Oat Gluten - Avenin, however, studies are currently in process to find out;
  • Why do people react to uncontaminated oats?
  • How are coeliacs affected by oats?
  • What are the long term affects of eating uncontaminated oats?
All of the latest research can be found on GF Oats' website at

However, it's important to note one thing. Even non-coeliacs can have issues with oats. 

It's also important to note that, contrary to popular opinion in Australia, uncontaminated oats do not cause the same damage that gluten does to coeliac patients who also have an oat intolerance.

But before you go running to buy oats, we need to clear some things up!

Warning Oats Contaminated with Gluten

Many brands of oatmeal have been contaminated by other gluten grains (unless stated otherwise). This can occur for a number of reasons, but the main three are:
  1. Contamination in the field Often times, farmers will rotate their oatmeal crops with barley or wheat from year to year to ensure the healthiest and most productive crop is grown. 
  2. Contamination during harvesting
    If the farmer harvests his oat crops with a harvester that also harvests other gluten grains - or stores it in a silo/area which other gluten grains have been stored in - the oatmeal will be contaminated (regardless of whether it has been grown in an oat-only crop). 
  3. Contamination during processing
    If the oats have made it from the farm without any contamination, they're not safe yet. Oats still undergo processing at the factory - and if the factory produces other gluten grains on the same line, these oats can become contaminated.
Where Can I Buy Gluten Free Oats in Australia?

If you live in Australia, you would know that you can't find gluten free oats on the shelves of Coles or Woolworths - and that's because the Coeliac Society and FSANZ does not currently allow oats to be labelled as gluten free due to the small percentage of people that would still get sick. This means those people are safeguarded against potential contamination/reaction from these oats, however, in almost every other country in the world, uncontaminated oats are allowed to be labelled as gluten free. 

That said, there are options available in Australia. So where do you buy gluten free oats in Australia? Or anywhere else in the world?

Where to Buy Gluten Free Oats in Australia

What I Recommend
As mentioned previously, you can't find uncontaminated oats on the shelves of Coles and Woolworths in Australia - and whilst health food stores may sometimes have "gluten free" oats from international sellers, they may not be as safe as you think.

Gloriously Free Uncontaminated Oats are an Australian based company that test their oats under Australian standards (less than 3ppm of gluten). Their oats are grown at GF Harvest in the USA and packaged in Australia and test results for their oats can be found here.

Trying Oats for the First Time as a Coeliac? Talk to your doctor first. Many gastroenterologists recommend undertaking a monitored "oats challenge" to make sure you can tolerate oats.

Regardless of what your doctor recommends, I recommend starting with a small amount first. Many coeliacs who have no issue with oats end up with gastrointestinal discomfort because they eat too much too quickly. Most people on a gluten free diet eat less fibre than those on a gluten diet, and with oats being an excellent source of fibre, it may take your stomach a little while to get used to digesting them! 

So there you go, hopefully now you understand a little bit more about oats and whether oats are gluten free or not. Please share this post with your friends and family members who are coeliacs or gluten intolerant so they too can learn the truth behind gluten free oats!

As with anything, if you're unsure about whether gluten free oats are safe for you - speak with your doctor! Many Southern In-Law readers have printed out this post and taken it to their doctor to talk about oats as an option in their diet as many doctors are unaware of avenin. 

The Coeliac Society has ruled that oats cannot be labelled as gluten free in Australia due to Avenin, however, that does not mean they are not suitable for oat-tolerant coeliacs - it's simply safeguarding those with an allergy to avenin against potential issues. 

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  1. Thanks for clearing that up :) I think I am 1:5 but might give it another try as it was quite some time ago I tried them. Regards Jo-Anne

    1. Hey Jo-Anne, when you tried oats, which brand/type did you buy?

  2. My question I posted yesterday went under idea why!

    1. If you are coeliac you should not consume any oats without having first done a supervised oat challenge under guidance of your Gastro specialist.

      Absence of symptoms after consuming oats does not indicate that they are fine to eat. You could still be doing your body damage internally

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