Oats and the gluten free diet

So you’re confused about whether or not oats contain gluten – let me tell you, are not alone!!  Let me try and take away the confusion without getting too technical.

The term ‘gluten’ is used to collectively describe the parts of grain storage protein from wheat, rye, barley and oats that are toxic to people with coeliac disease.  The name of those proteins is different depending on the

  • Wheat has Gliadin
  • Barley has Hordein
  • Rye has Secalin
  • Oats have Avenin

People with coeliac disease have an immune response to these proteins.

The problem is that currently tests for gluten can only measure gliadin, hordein and secalin but not avenin.  So testing oats for gluten will show no gluten content if the sample being tested is uncontaminated.  However, it if is contaminated with wheat, barley or rye it will show traces of gluten.

Different food authorities deal with this conundrum differently.  The Australian Food Standards Code prohibits the use of ‘gluten free’ claims on any products containing oats.  However, the regulations in Europe and the USA are different where oats that are uncontaminated (i.e. no measurable contamination with wheat, rye or barley) can be labelled as gluten free.

So, the problem now is that oats grown and packaged in Australia cannot be labelled as gluten free but the oats imported from Europe and the USA can be labelled as gluten free even if their gluten content is identical.  What’s more; they can sit side by side on a retailers shelves.

In Australia, oats that have no measurable contamination with wheat, rye or barley can be labelled as uncontaminated oats.

Just to be 100% clear: As far as gluten content goes, “Gluten free oats” from Europe or the USA are the same as “uncontaminated oats” from Australia
So, can you eat uncontaminated oats on a gluten free diet?

Evidence shows that uncontaminated oats are well tolerated by most people with coeliac disease.  However, in some other people with coeliac disease, consuming oats triggers a potentially harmful immune response.  It should be noted that the absence of symptoms when consuming oats does not necessarily indicate that they are safe for you – bowel damage can still occur despite the absence of symptoms.

Coeliac Australia recommends 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 consumption of uncontaminated coats will help guide individuals with coeliac disease to determine whether they can safely consume oats.

Are BRUSHWOODS oats “gluten free” or “uncontaminated”

No – BRUSHWOODS oats are not ‘gluten free” nor are they categorised as “uncontaminated”.  That said, for anyone who does not have coeliac disease, BRUSHWOODS oats are a healthy functional food which may have many dietary benefits.  Our oats are 100% wholegrain – we add nothing and we take nothing away.  We retain freshness through our unique strategy of vacuum sealing the oats immediately after rolling or cutting so that you get to enjoy ‘nothing but freshness’.

The following link will take you to an interesting look into Gluten and the role of it in todays diet.


Acknowledgement: much of the information presented here was sourced from Coeliac Australia
Information presented here is subject to change but was current as at 24/07/2017