About Our GF Oats
GF Oats “The Oats you can Trust”
GK Gluten Free Foods are the largest importers and supplier of Uncontaminated oats in Australia. GF Oats are the only brand in Australia who import the product in bulk from a family who are Coeliac and are dedicated to the issue of oats purity and eliminating contamination that is experienced through the processing chain in general cropping.
We import the product in bulk and repackage the oats in gluten-free certified organic facilities at the Toowoomba Endeavour Foundation. We use compliant packaging dedicated to communicating to the Australian consumer. Each batch we import is tested independently for gluten contamination and the results are loaded onto the Compliance Page of our website to show that these oats are uncontaminated.
We are unable to source Uncontaminated Oats in Australia at this time, due to the strict requirements to produce and uncontaminated oat product, which is why we continue to source our old-fashioned rolled oats from GF Harvest’s dedicated facilities in Wyoming.
In 2003, our growers in the states, a family of Coeliac’s, GF Harvest, started the movement towards proving that oats in its natural form were, in fact, gluten-free and it was the chain of processing that actually contaminated the oats. They had identified that the gluten-free breakfast and snack category was laden with poor choices full of corn, soy and sugar and that the humble oats could provide a nutritious alternative for the gluten-free consumer to turn to.
Fast forward to 2007 and they had achieved this successfully, with the national Coeliac Society and governing bodies in the US, approving and certifying oats that were uncontaminated from the gluten found in wheat, rye and barley, a gluten-free labelling status. Following on were the UK, Canada and parts of Europe.
The industry took off with consumers jumping onto the product and adopting it into their diet eagerly. By early 2009, I started to receive emails inquiring about whether I knew anything about these oats, as I had a gluten-free label called Brighterlife Wheat Free Foods, for anyone who has been around in this game for 20 years, you may have heard of it.
Anyhow, I decided to reach out to this company who were preparing to be export ready. I had samples sent to me, tested them, tasted them and got some positive feedback from my customers, so I decided to go ahead and import 1 pallet with a grand plan to present them to a Gluten-Free Show to launch into Australia with a bang. Well, the bang kinda backfired with a range of gluten-free heavy hitters at the time calling and emailing as the word must have spread.
My encounters were let’s say extreme. I was not aware of course as many still are not today that there was a little subclause in the food standards declaring that any product that contained oats could not be labelled gluten-free, which still stands today.
- 1 year selling this to our online database. Not, the launch we had expected. Dusting ourselves off from this, however still fielding very abusive and aggressive phone calls and emails from the industry, I decided to push on.
- My reasoning was a number of things.
- Our family was gluten-free, not any diagnosed Coeliac’s at this stage, however, I was appreciative of the issues this group of people faced and I was already an avid researcher from my families health challenges and I knew the dangers of ingredients such as corn, soy and high input of sugar-laden products that were being mass-produced and approved by the Coeliac Society.
- If I didn’t import this product and start distributing it someone else would and they would not care about educating the consumer at the other end. Being a teacher by background, this was an instinct, I guess.
- Finally, based on the fact that the oats had been so warmly accepted to gluten-free consumers in the states and by then the UK, I believed it would be accepted here in Australia. I found myself passionate about providing people with special dietary requirements an alternative choice to what was available. If you had told me it would be another 10 years before it even looked like it, I don’t think I would have believed you, but I hadn’t listened to the critics at all to date anyway.
GF Harvest exports gluten-free products internationally GF Oats introduced by GK Gluten Free Foods, Australia How to pre-order GF Oats
AUSTRALIAN LABELLING LAWS
The labelling laws which represent oats were based on a study done around 2005 using contaminated oats. This study showed 1 in 5 consumers reacted to oats. I always felt that because of the dates, this study would have had to have been done using contaminated oats. This year this was confirmed.
- About 5 years ago I approached the Grains and Legumes association and we started lobbying the FANANZ to start looking at changing the laws around the labelling of oats, which were clearly outdated. As part of this change the Coeliac Society needed to be involved. It took a number of years and a bit of a push let’s say for them to commence an independent research study at Monash University to start the study on oats. We are currently ½ way into a 3-year study and I have spoken to the head researcher who is enthusiastic about the current results. It is anticipated that the final results will conclude the same as the research study conducted in the US in 2017 that found that 1 in 100 Coeliac’s may react to the Avenin in Oats, not the gluten as there is none.
A small update was done around 2016 when NATA, approved the test results of oats showing a gluten-free reading. FANANZ now says that uncontaminated oats can be labelled Low Gluten. I have not chosen this label as I think it more reflects <20ppm and this product is not in that category, I felt it was more confusing for the consumer who is already confused.
- Garry entered the business with me and we decided to bring the oats in bulk packaging and repackage for the Australian consumer, embarking on a journey, you may say of pushing the boundaries of the food standards to see what we could and could not say on the packaging to communicate effectively to our target market. By repackaging we gained an opportunity to start knocking on the doors of distributers and stores that were already supplying our other products to accept the oats. Here are a few variations we worked with over 5 years. (show images) Most of these landed us in the hot seats of the offices of Qld Health. Each time we went back, made the changes requested and tried something else.
- Back to the great idea moment. I came out of the shower one day and said to Garry, what do you think about the name Gloriously Free Oats? Being the amicable male, he is, he said let’s give it a crack. We went on to design the concept of GF Oats and went on to trademark this name. Now, I can hear you all saying how misleading this may be, however, I would challenge you to think of me more of a creative, attempting to communicate to my customer in an interesting way. Keeping in mind that GF is not a trademarked acronym, it can stand for many things, yes, gluten-free is one of them, however, it is also not an industry-standard meaning any product that is gluten-free, has those words on it, not an acronym. GF.
In 2016, the product was starting to be a little more accepted, we had not been dragged into Qld Health, so we gathered the branding issue had settled.
We redesigned the packaging into the box bottom bags you see today. Alas, we had one more trip into the authorities which resulted in me taking off the warming statement to Coeliac customers referring them to their local society for advice, as this was deemed to be an endorsement by the society.
Cool, by then I just shrugged my shoulders and said a swear word. Done. We now have the Oats in over 2000 health food stores to date around Australia and a variety of IGA and independents. The Traditional oats are in NZ Countdown/Woollies stores.