One of the most controversial questions and debates in the gluten free community is the question, are oats gluten free? Who doesn’t love a nice bowl of gluten free oatmeal for breakfast? Throw a little fresh fruit in there, maybe some maple syrup and some nuts and you have a breakfast bowl of deliciousness.
So, are oats gluten free?… the short answer is yes, but it is complicated and highly disputed.
Oat’s have become more and more popular. You see oat flour being used in many new products such as the new gluten free Oreos. You see oat milk being used and served in coffee. Oat flour’s popularity seems to be a result go its increased nutritional value and the fact that it performs better in the kitchen. Products made with oat flour simply taste better.
Why is this a problem then? Don’t we want better tasting food?
Of course we want better tasting food and increased health benefits. I don’t think you will find much dispute with that. However we do want more transparency, and here is why….
Gluten Cross Contamination
Oats are naturally gluten free, but where they are farmed and how they are processed plays a big role. My friend Jonathon wrote a great article form a celiac perspective that I think hits the nail on the head.
Jonathan does a much better job at explaining this, but basically there are major cross contamination risks in the fields where they are grown and in the processing of the oats. Oats grown near wheat can contaminate them and even birds. Many time they are processed in the same facilities as wheat flour which is always a big risk.
Are Oats Gluten Free then?
Yes, but they need to be certified gluten free from an independent third party like the Gluten Intolerance Group. I know you’ve seen their “certified” gluten free labels around.
It is Possible to Eat Oats on a Gluten Free Diet
Yes and do you research! The Gluten Free Watchdog has a great post where they have collected some of the protocols by each company. They also have an update on their position which really spells things out. You should include this in your research.
At the end of the day it comes down to what works best for you and what is best for your family. Oats are only going to become more and more popular. I hope as we keep asking questions and keep the conversation going, companies will understand the importance and maintain truth in their oats manufacturing processes.