If you’re allergic to wheat, are gluten free, have celiac disease, or are non-celiac-gluten-sensitive, this is the article for you. The words Gluten Free are EVERYWHERE these days, and honestly, it can be a bit confusing and sometimes ridiculous. There are different certification logos, some packages say the words “gluten free” only, and there are a lot of variations in between. Gluten free oats are one of the many victims in the gluten free labeling world.
Join RAISE Today for access to 100% gluten free recipes.
But Wait. Aren’t Oats Gluten Free?
Yes. By definition, oats ARE gluten free. The processing of oats however is a whole different question, and that’s where you’ll need to be concerned. In case you don’t know, gluten can be found in wheat, barley, and rye.
Featured Recipe: Allergy Friendly Crispy Oat Apple Pie Recipe
What About Organic Oats? Are Those Gluten Free??
Organic does not mean gluten free. Those two terms have totally different definitions. However, they can be used together. You may see oats written as:
- Organic Oats
- Gluten Free Oats
- Organic Gluten Free Oats
- Purity Protocol Oats
Related: Cranberry Oat Cubes Recipe
Let’s Define Those Terms
Oats would be your standard oats, grown and sprayed with whatever the farmer sees fit to use. Not great if you’re into clean eating, or want to avoid pesticides and things like glyphosate.
Organic Oats are oats grown using organic farming practices. There’s no guarantee they’re gluten free. More about that below.
Related Article: Hidden Sources of Gluten
Gluten Free Oats are like the standard oats, grown and sprayed with whatever. In this case however, the processing is different, and that’s why they’re considered gluten free.
Organic Gluten Free Oats combine both organic farming and gluten free processing.
Finally, Purity Protocol Oats. These are the only ones we recommend. They’re better than organic and go beyond gluten free requirements. More on these later.
The Growing & Processing of Oats
It’s important to know that it’s not uncommon for oats to be grown near wheat fields. Some farms may grow both wheat and oats. It’s also not uncommon to find pieces of wheat in bags of harvested oats.
Some companies have really cool processing machines that detect the wheat and remove it from the processing line when they’re working with oats. It’s actually pretty radical. Yet, I’m sure by now you’re starting to understand why not all oats are gluten free.
It’s not uncommon for wheat and oats to be processed on the same lines in factories, and there will be trace amounts of wheat residue left behind.
The Disgusting Practice of Averaging
When I learned about this practice, I never purchased gluten free oats again. I’ll only purchase purity protocol, and it’s what we use in our home and the for the bakery (Free and Friendly Foods).
Let’s say Evil Company sells gluten free oats. Perhaps Evil Company also makes a line of cereal using those gluten free oats. Now, let’s take a look at how Evil Company reports their gluten free status.
To be deemed USDA Gluten Free, you’ll have to have test results that measure under 20 parts per million. To be GFCO, it’s 10 parts per million. Now, as far as I know, no one using GFCO has ever done this, and I don’t think it’s allowed under their certification. However, their certification does allow for food made on shared equipment with wheat to be labeled gluten free so long as it passes the test. You’ll have to use your best judgement on this one, and do what’s right based on your level of sensitivity.
Back to Evil Company. Here’s their gluten free oats batch test results:
- 10 parts per million
- 13 parts per million
- 33 parts per million
- 12 parts per million
- 50 parts per million
- 10 parts per million
- 10 parts per million
Add it all up and what do you get? An average of 19.7 parts per million. Pack it up and label it gluten free boys!
Let me guess… you’re pretty disgusted too right now.
Purity Protocol Oats
You May Also Enjoy: Zego Foods Mix-Ins, Oats, Muesli, Protein Powder Product Reviews
With Purity Protocol Oats, there are a lot of steps in place to keep you safe. First, the seeds, planting, and growing have to meet certain standards. The fields, equipment, processing plants, and mills all have to be inspected by a third party. The oats have to be processed in a dedicated gluten free facility, and the storage must also be gluten free. There are a lot of tests a long the way, and at the end of the day, it’s worth it.
I’m sure I pay more for oats because of this, but honestly, I don’t care. What’s even better about the two companies we vouch for, they’re also safe for those with a severe corn allergy.
It’s easy to get caught up in the labeling, and to blindly trust it. Sadly, if you’re living with food allergies that isn’t always the best idea. When you call companies, you’ll learn a LOT about how the food is grown, processed, packaged, etc. The phone calls may enlighten and/or upset you.
If you’re gluten free and feeling great, there’s a good chance you’re making all the best food choices for yourself. If you’re gluten free and know that something still isn’t quite right… you may need to tweak your food choices, or see if there are any other undiagnosed issues going on.
Each person will have a unique journey. For example, one of our kids cannot have food made on shared equipment with dairy, period. He has quite a few allergies and an egg intolerance, and I have to call pretty much every time we want to try something new. For us, the easy solution was to make food at home.
When you understand how quickly commercial food can change, it makes you question your options very carefully. I encourage you all to take a look in your cupboards (if necessary) and see if there are better options available to you.