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Why are Aussie’s so confused about Gluten Free Oats?

We Aussie’s like to consider ourselves world leaders intellectually, so why are we lagging behind here?

Google up ‘gluten free’ recipes and you will see over 31 million results, Google up “gluten free oats” and you will find over 13 millions results.  So, it is not at all surprising that gluten free consumers, especially here in Australia, are a little confused when it comes to oats.

You see, when a customer wants/needs to follow a gluten free diet, they rely very heavily, on the labeling on packaging communicating to them, that the product is suitable for their specific dietary requirements.  So when you see a packet of oats here in Australia, which identifies the product as wheat free or uncontaminated after they have seen 13 million results referring to ‘gluten free oats’, this creates a little bit of confusion for us Aussies.

What the average Aussie doesn’t know is that in Australia and New Zealand our food standards currently don’t permit any product that contains oats to be labeled ‘gluten free’.  So, the gluten free references on Google are from the markets in the USA, UK, Canada and parts of Europe. These countries have given pure oats or oats that are uncontaminated from other gluten containing grains a ‘gluten free’ certification so their gluten free consumers can identify this product as suitable in implement into their gluten free diets.

You see as a wheat farmer’s daughter, I can tell you that most farmers grow wheat, barley and oats to name a few crops and they use the same equipment in the processing.  So, this is where the contamination occurs.

In 2009 my company started importing a brand of oats in Australia that had just been give it’s “Gluten Free” certification in the USA, that incidentally was grown by a family of Coeliac’s.  This intrigued me greatly, as I also come from a family of coeliacs and I understood the issues of this disease, even though personally a recent test suggests, I have the all clear.

I believed that seeing I was manufacturing other products for the growing gluten free market, that I had developed, due to my own family’s intolerances, that I was the best person to import this product into the Australian market.

Over the years I have had a very difficult time with the Coeliac Society in particular and the Health Department regarding the status of this product and it’s position in the market place.  I have been unable to share with customers on my website all the facts regarding this product, which makes it more confusing for customers. It seems to me that research from overseas has been ignored in regards to pure uncontaminated oats and the support of the current outdated labeling laws just leaves us Aussie’s on the back foot and confused.

In fact, the Coeliac Society’s current position on oats, which has been recently updated, recognizes 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.  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.

In a market place where there is a growing movement towards educating people about ‘whole foods’, ‘superfoods’, organic and natural products, oats undeniably falls into a health food category, providing consumers with many nutritional benefits.

Now is the time to update our guidelines and STOP the confusion in the Southern Land.

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