Can you eat oats if you are a Coeliac?

02/03/2020

We encourage all Coeliac patients to follow the advice of their medical practitioner.

So, this is a very contentious issue if you live in Australia or New Zealand as I found out 10 years ago when I first imported my first load of oats in 2009. The load had barely hit the dock when all the gluten-free heavy hitters starting ringing me informing me that oats could not be labelled gluten-free in Australia. Oops, I didn’t know that and 10 years down the track, most people still don’t know that. Lol. In 2007, the USA had just received their certification to claim that oats that were not contaminated through the supply chain from wheat, rye or barley could now claim they were gluten-free.  We connected with The Smith family who are Coeliac and were one of the first families to start a project to show that oats were gluten-free if the supply chain could be kept uncontaminated from wheat, rye and barley. From the time I started importing oats into Australia. I have religiously tested each and every batch to ensure that they tested to <3ppm. This equals NIL gluten. You can see all our testing results on our Compliance page.

Here in Australia, we are still working on changing the sub-clause in the Food Labelling standards, that declares that any product that contains oats, can not be labelled gluten-free. In 2016, NATO, the National Australian Testing Authority recognised the gluten-free testing on oats, and the laws were slightly changed to allow us to label uncontaminated oats as Low Gluten. We trialled this and decided along with our customers, that it was more confusing. The best that we can do at the moment, is to label the oats Gloriously Free, which is what GF Oats stands for and is trademarked in Australia & NZ.

In 2016, we reached out to the Grains & Legumes association to assist us with lobbying the Food Labelling standards, in this process, the Coeliac Association was consulted and proceeded with a 3-year study, headed by Jason Tye-Din at Monash University.  The fact is that the old standard was based on a 2006 study that was conducted on contaminated oats. Boo! In the meantime, one of the largest independent studies on oats was conducted in the USA and the results were released concluding that ONLY 99 out of 100 Coeliac patients were able to successfully tolerate gluten-free oats and that 1 person in 100 would react to the Avenin in oats. We look forward to the results of the study here in Australia.

So, to the question, can you eat oats if you are a Coeliac?  This is not black and white, and as per the Coeliac Australia position on oats currently standing as per 2015 when it was updated.  

“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. Please note that the absence of symptoms when consuming oats does not necessarily indicate they are safe – bowel damage can still occur despite the absence of symptoms. It is recommended that individuals who wish to consume oats as part of their gluten-free diet do so under medical supervision to ensure appropriate review and safety. Undertaking a gastroscopy and small bowel biopsy before and after 3 months of regular uncontaminated oat consumption can help guide whether an individual with coeliac disease can safely consume oats.” Technical Officer Last revised

Based on the fact that most of the ingredients used in gluten-free foods is based on GMO corn, soy and sugar, we are very proud of the products we import and product at GF Oats Australia and love receiving wonderful testimonials from customers who are loving our GF Oats and biscuits.

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