Gluten Contamination of Commercial Oats in the United States
In 1994 I was diagnosed with celiac disease, which led me to create Celiac.com in 1995. I created this site for a single purpose: To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives. Celiac.com was the first site on the Internet dedicated solely to celiac disease. In 1998 I created The Gluten-Free Mall, Your Special Diet Superstore!, and I am the co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.View all articles by Scott Adams
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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