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Gluten Contamination of Commercial Oats in the United States

Thompson T. NEJM. 2004;351:2021-2022 (Nov. 4, 2004, Number 19)

Celiac.com 11/09/2004 - While oats do not appear to naturally contain gluten, like other grains they can become contaminated during harvesting, transporting, milling and processing. Many studies have shown that moderate amounts of uncontaminated oats are safe for most adults with celiac disease. There may, however, also exist a sub-set of celiacs who also have avenin-reactive mucosal T-cells, avenin being the oat counterpart to wheats gliadin.

To summarize the study—12 containers of oats representing 4 different lots of 3 brands (Quaker, Country Choice, and McCanns) were tested for gluten contamination using the R5 ELISA developed by Mendez. Contamination levels ranged from below the limit of detection (3 ppm gluten) to 1807 ppm gluten. Three of the 12 oat samples contained gluten levels of less than 20 ppm, and the other nine had levels that ranged from 23 to 1,807 ppm. All brands of oats tested had at least 1 container of oats that tested above 200 ppm gluten. It is interesting to note that Country Choice oats ranged from below the limit of detection to 210 ppm—an amount that is nearly at the level allowed by the Codex Alimentarius for products that normally contain gluten but have had their gluten removed—and of the three brands had the least amount of cross-contamination. We must caution, however, that the sampling done in the study was much to small to make any firm conclusions about the average level of gluten-contamination of each of these brands.

This study shows that cross-contamination is indeed a concern for celiacs who want to try oats. Celiac patients should contact oat millers directly and talk to them about their clean-out procedures, and whether they have done any testing of their own for gluten cross-contamination.

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10 Responses:

 
Angi
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said this on
21 Oct 2007 8:21:26 AM PST
I've been craving oats for years, never ate them. I will try country choice or maybe organic if they exist. I'll let you know how I feel later. Thanks for the info.

 
Janice Harrison
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said this on
02 Nov 2007 3:28:49 PM PST
This is the greatest thing since peanut butter was invented. I LOVE this site. I have had celiac sprue for 22 years, and this is the best web site I have ever ran into. Keep up the great work and keep the information coming.
Janice Harrison
Poquoson, Virginia

 
SAS
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said this on
12 Nov 2007 5:06:13 AM PST
It would be great if we could get the doctor to agree with this. So far my doctor still says 'no oats.' I believe that cross-contamination is the issue, but we have to watch for that with everything. Working on it...the articles help. Thank you.

 
carol
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said this on
01 Dec 2007 11:16:59 AM PST
If you Google 'gluten free oats' you will find oatmeal available online that is grown by a celiac family with no cross-contamination. The product is wonderful and make fabulous oatmeal and apple crisp.

 
Pat
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said this on
06 Jan 2008 3:24:11 PM PST
Good advice on reaching gluten-free oats!

 
benedict
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said this on
21 Jan 2008 1:56:52 PM PST
I'm really pleased about this study.
Here in Scotland it's fairly easy to obtain newly milled oats or even un-milled ones.

 
LAA
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said this on
15 Jan 2012 6:21:10 PM PST
Trader Joe's sells "gluten free oats" and they're delicious!

 
Rochelle
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said this on
10 Jul 2013 12:07:16 PM PST
Excellent article.

 
Hech
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said this on
27 Nov 2013 5:03:03 PM PST
What is the difference between contamination and cross contamination? and why would the word 'cross' apply here?

 
Sheila
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said this on
01 May 2014 3:05:46 PM PST
The best way to explain the difference might be by examples:
If I spilled a toxic cleaning material into my oats that would be contamination, but if by storing oats in the same container I stored wheat and the gluten from the dust of the wheat contaminated the oats, that would be cross-contamination.
Or if I buy spinach that has been contaminated with e coli by handlers lets say, and then chop it up on a cutting board , then cut up chicken on that same cutting board I risk cross contamination from the spinach to the chicken.
or so I understand it.




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