When you are looking for gluten-free foods, appearances can be deceiving. Oatmeal is a good example of this, even though it seems like it would be completely safe on the surface. So, is oatmeal gluten-free?
While the oats themselves are fine on their own, the problem is that most manufacturers are processing grans where it is made, making the possibility of cross-contamination a very real one. As such, it is important to know more about the manufacturer and their processes to ensure that you aren’t getting any unintended gluten in the product.
Today we’ll elaborate on this and explore the subject in detail, so that you’ll have the information that you need in order to make an informed choice. Is oatmeal gluten-free? Let’s take a closer look at the facts that you NEED to know!
The Problem of Cross-Contamination
Starting off, pure oats that are uncontaminated are definitely gluten-free and there are even FDA guidelines in place that are there to back this up. According to FDA standards for gluten-free products, oats may only contain below 20 parts per every million of gluten.
The problem is ‘agricultural comingling’, which is just fancy terminology to describe when during the processes of growing, harvesting, transporting, and storing that the oats come in contact with other grains. When the product instead comes in contact with particles of other grains, then this is called ‘cross contact’.
This is why it is important to know what steps the oatmeal producer takes to help ensure the purity of their product. Testing and purity protocols will be in place, but as they vary from company to company your best bet is to find out from them directly if you are worried.
While oats will have a small enough gluten level that consumption will be safe, this will not be the case for everyone, so due diligence is definitely recommended if you want to eat oatmeal.
Avenin Protein and Celiac Disease
Even with the purest-processed oats, there is another pitfall that sufferers of Celiac disease will need to be aware of. While the research is not conclusive at this time, some studies have shown that a protein in oats called Avenin can trigger a response in a small number of consumers with Celiac disease.
This won’t happen with everyone, but if you have done your homework and are confident that the oatmeal you are getting is gluten-free and still have a response to it, then you might well have a sensitivity to Avenin protein.
Can People With Celiac Disease Eat Oatmeal Safely?
As a general rule, if you have Celiac disease then you can still have oatmeal in most cases, but with one condition – it needs to have a gluten-free label. The risk of cross-contact and agricultural comingling is simply too high if the label is not present, especially with bargain-brand oatmeal products with lower processing standards.
Provided that you make sure there is a ‘gluten-free’ label, then any trace elements of gluten that are present should be in a small enough volume as to be negligible – for MOST people.
As sensitivity varies wildly from person to person, the only way to be 100% sure it to research your brand and to carefully test it to see how your body reacts, but if you are highly sensitive then check with your doctor first.
Oatmeal is delicious, but always put your health and safety first – gluten allergies are serious business!
Are Any Brands of Oatmeal Gluten-Free?
There are a number of gluten-free brands out there that you can get a hold of through your local grocery store or simply order online. Quaker Oats offers a Gluten-Free Old Fashioned Rolled Oats product that you can safely consume with confidence, as this is a brand name that we’ve all gotten to know and trust.
Some other brands that you can look for are Nature’s Path, Bob’s Red Mill, and even some flavored varieties such as Earnest Eats and Gluten-Free Prairie oats. The important thing it to make sure that you see the labelling clearly on the package.
This will let you know with 100% surety that this product is being held to FDA standards to ensure that the product is as gluten-free as is feasibly possible.
Read More >> Are Mornflake Oats Gluten-Free?
Is Oat Milk Considered Gluten-Free?
With oat milk, the problem is the same as you find with oatmeal and other oat products – the possibility of cross-contamination or agricultural comingling. Thankfully, there are a number of brands that you can look for which will carry the gluten-free label if you’ve got a craving for oat milk or a recipe which requires it.
Look for brands such as Oatly, Silk, Planet Oat, and Simple Truth. These oat milks all offer a gluten-free oat milk product that will have the gluten-free assurance right on the packaging so that you know they are meeting the FDA standards of a being below 20 parts per million.
It takes a little extra hunting in the store although you can save a little time if you are using shopping apps such as Instacart, Walmart, or your favorite local store that offers delivery. You can also order online if you are unable to find these products locally.
Read More >> Is Condensed Milk Gluten-Free?
Some Final Words on Oatmeal and Gluten
Today we’ve tackled the question ‘is oatmeal gluten-free?’ and as you can see, while the oats themselves in a pure state are safe, grains can come into contact with oats during the growth, harvest, transport, and storage phases of the manufacturing process.
As such, your best bet is to look for the gluten-free label on any oatmeal that you are considering so that you can be assured that the content will be less than 20 parts per million.
For all but the most severe gluten allergies, this should be safe to consume, but if you are worried then definitely check with your doctor first. In most cases, however, you should be able to enjoy a delicious bowl of oatmeal with confidence if the gluten-free label is there!