There is a pervasive myth that oats cannot be gluten-free, but this cannot be further from the truth. What determines the presence of gluten in oats lies not in the oat itself, but in the way they are processed and prepared for sale. This problem arises in the issue of cross-contamination, wherein oats are processed in the same place as gluten-containing products such as wheat, rye and barley.
So, are oats gluten-free? Pure oats are super safe for most people with gluten intolerance – so what’s the problem? Mainstream oats are processed in the same facilities as gluten-containing grains such as wheat, rye or barley, causing those oats to register levels of gluten far exceeding the standard for gluten-free food.
GF Oats sources our raw oat product from America, where a range of gluten free oats was launched in 2007 after successfully proving that oats grown and processed in isolation from gluten-containing grains were in fact gluten-free. Our founder Kylie reached out to this family-owned company in 2009 and after much due diligence the very first pallet of gluten-free oats was en route to Brisbane. One small hitch: under Australian labelling laws, a subclause prevents the labelling of any oat products as gluten-free, even after testing nil to any traces of gluten. As such, GF Oats have been working to comply with these standards since our conception, and to ensure our wording to our customers is clear and effective.
Currently, a study founded by the Coeliac Society is underway at Monash University, which may lead to Australian labelling laws to be adjusted to line up with the certification found in the rest of the word regarding the gluten-free status of oats. Unfortunately, the largest independent research study on oats conducted in the US in 2017 concluded that 1 in 100 Coeliac patients may still react to the avenin in oats, which is the naturally forming protein. This can cause confusion amongst consumers regarding the safety of oats for Coeliacs, as there is so much conflicting information on the internet, where oats are regularly declared to be gluten-free without proven sources to back up these claims. Another source of confusion lies in the fact that in most other countries, properly processed oats are labelled as gluten-free, so why can’t these same products be found in Australia? Is there something wrong with Australian oats? There’s no wonder this causes hesitation and anxiety when dealing with the already exhausting need to traverse a very restrictive diet. Here at GF Oats, it’s our mission to provide researched information to support and develop our understanding of the gluten-free status of oats.
Today Kylie and the GF Oats team are importing 20 tonne of gluten-free oats a month and supplying over 3000 stores across Australia and New Zealand. We are still only able to labels our oats as Gluten Friendly, for even though our oats test nil gluten, they cannot be labelled as gluten-free in Australia until the Monash oat study has been finalised, published and presented to the Food Labelling Standards of Australia.
It is factual and proven that oats don’t actually contain gluten; rather, they contain a protein called avenin and are therefore naturally gluten free. While at GF Oats Australia we can’t yet label our oat products as gluten free, by trying our products you get the benefits of wholesome, delicious food that is Gluten Friendly, Vegan, Uncontaminated, Wheat Free, and Certified Organic.