Australian and New Zealand Food Labelling Standards around Oats

Australian and New Zealand Food Labelling Standards around Oats

Kylie Hollonds

In 2007, I was made aware that a variety of oats were legally able to be called gluten-free oats. This was super exciting to me as I was selling a gluten-free flour formula online and many of my customers had been asking me about gluten-free oats. In 2009 I decided that I wanted to be the first in Australia to import these oats for gluten-free customers. My first pallet of oats arrived, 750kg, and I was so excited only to receive some very blunt phone calls from big gluten-free identities and authorities here in Australia alerting me to the labelling laws where there was a sub-clause stating that no product that contained oats could be labelled gluten-free oats. Oops. 

On further investigation, of course, this is the clause that now caused us a few issues: 

In the code they outline that no food can be called Gluten-Free, is there is any detectable gluten or contains oats.  Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye & barley and other similar grains, which can cause adverse health effects in individuals with coeliac disease and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. Oats is currently very debatable as the protein called Avenin is not detectable by any standard testing.  Generally, Oats is contaminated by other gluten-containing grains at the farm level. For that reason, the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ ) treats gluten as an allergen for food labelling purposes and sets the labelling requirements accordingly.

https://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2014C01191

Please note that this clause is now under review as the tests completed on oats for the studies that deducted these results, were done on contaminated oats. 
There is currently an oat study that is nearing completion at Monash University in Australia that is funded by the Coeliac Society of Australia as part of the steps required to get this law updated to enable us in Australia to align ourselves with the claims around gluten-free oats in other countries and assist customers with the confusion around oats. 

So until then, we are unable to claim that any oats are gluten-free. GF Oats are the only company who tests their oats for gluten content and publishes the results for each load on the Compliance Page of their website. 

GF Oats - "The Oats you can Trust" members of the Oats Purity Network

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