Are Oats Gluten Free?

12 March 2014

We are often asked by our customers if oats can be gluten free (we do stock "wheat free" oats, it can be a confusing topic!)  So we did some research and have come up with the following information:


Coeliac society, New Zealand, July 2010

There is some controversy as to whether oats are acceptable in a gluten free diet due to:

  • There often being wheat contamination from the process of production
  • Research by Dr Robert Anderson has shown that approximately one in five people with coeliac disease react to pure, uncontaminated oats.
  • When people discuss gluten free oats this means that they are free from wheat (and rye, barley) gliadin i.e. there is no measurable contamination. Avenin is an essential part of oats (as gliadin is with wheat). Oats will never be gluten (i.e. avenin) free [even if they are described as gluten (i.e. gliadin) free].

Since we cannot determine who is the one in five is who react to pure oats and we know that damage can occur in the absence of symptoms, Dr Anderson’s advice (and Coeliac New Zealand’s) is that oats should not be consumed without a gastroscopy and biopsy prior to and during consumption. This is the only test that can answer this question.

Note: Under the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, oats and their products are not permitted in foods that are labelled gluten free.


Coeliac society, USA, July 2010

Oats have traditionally been considered to be toxic to coeliacs, but recent scientific studies have shown otherwise. This research is ongoing, however, and it may be too early to draw solid conclusions.



The suitability of oats in the gluten-free diet is still somewhat controversial.  Some research suggests that oats in themselves are gluten free, but that they are virtually always contaminated by other grains during distribution or processing.  However, recent research indicated that a protein naturally found in oats (avenin) possessed peptide sequences closely resembling wheat gluten and caused mucosal inflammation in significant numbers of celiac disease sufferers.  Some examination results show that even oats that are not contaminated with wheat particles are nonetheless dangerous, while not very harmful to the majority.  Such oats are generally considered risky for celiac children to eat, but two studies show that they are completely safe for coeliac adults to eat.  People who are merely gluten-sensitive may be able to eat oats without adverse effect, even over a period of five years.  Given this conflicting information, excluding oats appears to be the only risk-free practice for celiac disease sufferers of all ages.  However, medically approved guidelines exist for those celiacs who do wish to introduce oats into their diet.


Commonsense Organics Oats

We will not advertise our oats as gluten free unless there is a consensus among the experts.  Until then our oats are oats, absolutely lovely!  But not gluten free.


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