If you are wondering if oats are gluten free and why or why not, you are not alone! In Australia, we are now seeing “wheat free” “low gluten” and “uncontaminated” oats but what does that mean for those that cannot consume gluten? We’re here to crack the code and find out if oats are safe if you are on a strict gluten free diet.
Oats are particularly tricky as there are differing recommendations around the world. Coeliac Australia states that oats are not a part of a gluten free diet and any products containing oats cannot be listed as “gluten free”, as there is no test currently available to measure gluten in oats. However, the issue is confused as the food standard codes regarding oats differ from country to country.
Coeliac Australia states the following:
“The term ‘gluten’ is used to collectively describe the parts of grain storage protein (‘prolamins’) from wheat, rye, barley and oats that are toxic to people with coeliac disease. The prolamins from each grain are called something different: Wheat – Gliadin; Barley – Hordein; Rye – Secalin; Oats – Avenin. In people with coeliac disease, ingestion of these prolamins results in an immune reaction.”
“The Australian food standard differs to the regulations in Europe and the USA, where oats can be marketed as ‘gluten free’. More accurately, these ‘gluten free’ oats are the equivalent of oats labelled ‘wheat free’ in Australia, i.e. there is no measurable contamination with wheat, rye or barley.”
As many coeliac sufferers would have discovered, it is possible for there to be zero physical symptoms or effects from a particular food until it has caused unknown damage. Yes, believe it or not, damage can occur even if no physical symptoms are endured.
Amongst your oats research you may have stumbled across the mention of ‘uncontaminated oats.’ Stated by Coeliac Australia, “Evidence shows that uncontaminated oats are well tolerated by most people with coeliac disease. However, in some people with coeliac disease, oat consumption can trigger a potentially harmful immune response.”
An article by the Celiac Disease Foundation states that one in 12 CD patients had activated avenin-specific T cells, or an immunological response, whilst ingesting 100 grams of uncontaminated oats per day in a three-day clinical trial. Although the risk of damage via an autoimmune response is fairly low across those who have coeliac disease, the risk is one Coeliac Australia is not willing to take.
Therefore, it’s not a surprise that the Australian Food Standards Code does not allow products containing oats to have their packaging labelled with ‘gluten free.’
It is recommended by the Coeliac Disease Foundation that if you are willing to try uncontaminated oats as a Coeliac that you do so under the supervision of your physician. However, it should be reiterated that the foundation also stresses that oats are not a part of nor encouraged to be eaten when undergoing a gluten free diet. With that in mind, if you do not have coeliac disease, be sure to tune into your body and recognise what dietary choices make you feel your best.
If you have removed grains from your diet and are craving a warm bowl of porridge in the morning, don’t fret! You are going to love Paleo Hero’s Almond Porridge Mix! It is free of gluten, grains (including oats), dairy and sugar and will keep you nourished and sustained for hours!
Paleo Almond Porridge Mix
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Coeliac Australia’s Position Statement on Oats: https://www.coeliac.org.au/uploads/65701/ufiles/Position_Statements/CAPSOats.pdf
Celiac Disease Foundation Clinical Trial article: