Gluten Free Oats

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Gluten Free, Whole Grains 101

Classic rolled oats are perfect for oatmeal cookies and granola. Find recipes for gluten free versions on our website.

In honor of National Oatmeal Month, I thought I would take a few minutes to talk a bit about gluten free oats. It’s been almost three years since we introduced gluten free oats into the mainstream marketplace, but we still get a lot of questions about them.

If you don’t follow the gluten free diet, you may not understand why oats are such a big deal for those on a gluten free diet, after all oats do not naturally contain gluten. They do contain a protein known as avenin, which is very similar to gluten and can cause adverse reactions in some people. Avenin-sensitivity is not limited to people with celiac disease and can affect people of all walks. It is not particularly common, but you can find more information about it here.

This is one reason why oats should be introduced slowly into the gluten free diet, as celiacs are more likely to be sensitive to avenin. The second main reason why anyone on the gluten free diet should introduce oats slowly into their diet is that the fiber in oats can be hard on a compromised digestive tract. Start with a small serving, about 1/4 cup, per day until your body adjusts. AND we always recommend talking with your physician before adding oats into a gluten free diet.

Oats have long been on the ‘forbidden foods’ list for those with celiac disease because of cross-contact issues at the farm level. Wheat and oats have traditionally been rotation crops which is not ideal for preventing cross-contact. It’s nearly impossible to keep wheat from cropping up with oats when grown as rotation crops. This happens all across the board in the farming industry. Usually, it’s not a problem because most grains can be sorted using high-tech machines. Oats and wheat, however, are very similar in shape, size and color, making standard grain-cleaning practices almost ineffective. New technology has been introduced into the industry that can detect the subtle differences in the two grains, making it far easier to produce gluten free oats.

At Bob’s Red Mill we take it to the next level by working closely with our suppliers to ensure the oats we purchase are, indeed, gluten free. Our gluten free oats are exhaustively tested upon arrival at Bob’s Red Mill. We use the ELISA Gluten Assay to determine if the oats are under 20 [gluten] parts per million in our in-house laboratory. You can watch a short video about our gluten free facility here.

We now proudly offer three varieties of gluten free oats- regular rolled, steel cut and quick rolled- as well as oat flour. I’ve heard oat bran may be on the list next, but that’s news from the rumor mill.

I hope this has helped clear up any confusion surrounding gluten free oats. If you’ve still got questions, just post them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

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Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
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17 Responses to “Gluten Free Oats”

  1. I was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease — for my family I only buy Bob’s Red Mill Organic Thick Cut Oats — I’m so sad that Organic Thick Cut isn’t offered Gluten Free! Is it possible these could be offered in the future?

    • Tim- Yes, our oats do contain avenin, which is why we recommend that you speak with your doctor or nutritionist before adding our gluten free oats into your gluten free diet. I don’t know for a fact, but I’m pretty sure it would be near impossible to remove avenin from oats. Because the protein in a grain makes up the highest portion of the grain kernel, it would be very difficult. It would be like removing the gluten free wheat- I’ve heard it said that it can be done, but I wouldn’t put my trust in it if I had celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

  2. I love your whole grain rolled oats much better than the Steel cut. I am glad you make different types for all taste buds. I am not celiac but I have a lot of autoimmune diseases that suggest being gluten free and yes, it makes a hugh difference.

  3. I am reading the Blood Sugar Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman and he just puts oats in to the contains gluten category. I have not finished the book but you might want to contact him in regards to your product.

  4. I noticed the Rolled Oats package says they are Wheat free but not gluten free. When I look at the ingredients the only ingredient is wheat free rolled oats. Are these oats gluten free or just wheat free?

    • In Canada, we cannot call oats gluten free. They are indeed the same oats and are tested to be below 19 ppm gluten. If you have further questions, please give us a ring at 800-349-2173.

  5. are the canadian wheat free rolled oats organic?
    i notice in the store the organic oats do not say wheat free, and the wheat free oats do not say organic. is it one or the other , or is it just a labeling thing?

    • Max,

      Yes, it is one or the other right now. We have not found a farm that is growing organic gluten free oats right now. We hope to add this to our lineup in the future.

    • Rachel,

      Great question. No, if our oats do not have the gluten free symbol, they are grown and packaged in ways that they may come into contact with wheat. We take great care in our gluten free line of oats and do, indeed, have steel cut, Scottish, quick-cooking and other varieties all produced and packaged in our gluten free facility. They all have the same purple labels to make shopping easier. You can view the full line here: http://www.bobsredmill.com/Oats

  6. Love your quick cooking steel cut oats! However looking at going gluten free and I have several bags from Costco of these, not labeled gluten free. How much more gluten is in these? I don’t have celiac disease, and if we’re only talking trace amounts, I’ll just finish these and buy gluten free next time. Thanks and again love this stuff!!

    • If you do not have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, the amount of gluten is minimal and should be fine for you to consume. Our gluten free oats are just processed differently to ensure there is no gluten.

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