Many of us with Celiac Disease cannot tolerate oats, but for those of us who can there is an important movement happening that you need to know about.
We know that oats are naturally gluten free yet are most often contaminated with gluten-containing grains throughout the growing, harvesting, and packaging process. Those of us who choose to eat oats must look for gluten free oat companies who grow/harvest their oats in dedicated fields away from gluten-containing grains and test rigorously for gluten – this is called the “purity protocol”.
Remember the Cheerios recall last year? One of the big issues that came into light was that General Mills was not using certified gluten free oats or purity protocol oats – instead they utilized regular/contaminated oats and then used a mechanical sorting technology to remove the gluten. Many Celiacs (myself included) felt uncomfortable with this practice along with their lot testing policy.
It then came into light that this mechanical/optical sorting concept is not new. MANY of today’s trusted gluten free oat suppliers are mechanically/optically sorting their oats and selling them to gluten free companies to use in their products. This has been going on for YEARS. These companies may have better testing policies than Cheerios and test their foods down to 20, 10 or 5ppm. However, this policy concerns me, because I do not eat any “gluten removed” foods, and that is exactly what they are doing.
Studies done by Gluten Free Watchdog have shown that “oat products labeled gluten-free are at a higher risk of gluten contamination as compared to labeled gluten-free foods as a whole.” AND “Based on conversations with the manufacturers of products testing at or above 20 ppm of gluten, oats from suppliers of purity protocol oats were not being used in these five products at the time of original testing.” Concerning? I think so.
Please note that there is no possible way to tell if a company is using purity protocol oats vs sorted oats just by looking at the label – “gluten free oats” “certified gluten free oats” or a certification symbol do not provide any insight as to how the oats are grown/harvested. You have to either contact the company or visit GlutenFreeWatchdog.com.
Gluten Free Watchdog is one of my favorite resources for the Celiac/GF community. I have a great amount of respect for Tricia Thompson. She is doing the good, hard, and necessary work, and (as far as I’m concerned) whatever she says goes. Their statement on oats:
“Gluten Free Watchdog supports the use of gluten-free oats by the celiac disease community that are produced under a robust gluten-free purity protocol. At this time we do not in general support the use of regular commodity oats that are cleaned at the “end” of production via mechanical and/or optical sorting. We are not necessarily opposed to the use of such oats in the future if their gluten-free status can be definitively demonstrated via a rigorous testing protocol.”
Click here for:
Gluten Free Watchdog’s list of GF purity protocol suppliers and manufacturers – Here you’ll also find statements from Nature’s Path, Bob’s Red Mill, Cream Hill Estates, and Bakery On Main. All are using mechanically/optically sorted oats. (I know, I was surprised, too)
As I said, I fully support the opinions of Gluten Free Watchdog. So onward on TastyMeditation.com I will only be recommending GF oat-containing products that support the purity protocol.
We must all make our own decisions regarding what we eat and determine our own comfort levels, but we also have the right to be informed. Please consider supporting the purity protocol companies that are taking the extra steps to ensure that their products are truly safe for the Celiac community and do not touch gluten in the process.