Celiac.com 06/30/2008 - According to the latest European research, pure oats are safe for most people with celiac disease, and contamination is the main problem facing people with celiac disease who wish to eat oats. The question of whether oats are safe to consume for all people with celiac disease has yet to be adequately resolved. Doubts remain as to whether pure oats are safe for all people with celiac disease, and if so, which oats.

Some studies show that most people with celiac disease can tolerate oats, while some studies show sensitivity. Some people with celiac disease seem to be sensitive to oats, whether they are contaminated or not, but recent studies suggest that contamination is the main problem for most people with celiac disease who wish to eat oats. Anecdotal evidence is equally divided, with some folks reporting no problem with oats, while others report adverse reactions.

A recent editorial by doctors Heather Julia Ellis and Paul J. Ciclitira in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology notes that oats could be an important component in a gluten-free diet. They point out that a small segment of the population with celiac disease seem to have adverse T cell responses to oats that can not be explained by contamination. The doctors also point out that only one of the two commercially available kits for testing for the presence of gluten in foods is sensitive to barley. Another problem with oat consumption among people with celiac disease is that some may seem to tolerate oats well, and show no symptoms, but still be suffering damage.

Doctors Ellis and Ciclitira note that people with celiac disease who wish to consume oats need sound advice and regular monitoring for telltale antibodies, and reliable, comprehensive assay techniques, which means access to reliably tested, uncontaminated oats. To that, I would add clear labeling. An article by the Irish gastroenterologist William Dickey in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology seems to echo that point. According to Dickey, research supports the idea that most people with celiac disease can tolerate pure oats well, and that only in rare cases do pure oats elicit an adverse reaction. Dickey notes that contamination of commercially viable oats is the cause of most adverse reactions in people with celiac disease. He points out that R5