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Do Gluten-free Oat Products Have a Gluten Contamination Problem?
Tests show oat products labeled gluten-free to have gluten contamination levels almost three-times higher than other gluten-free products. Photo: CC--Travis Wise
Celiac.com 08/03/2016 - As part of its mission, Gluten Free Watchdog performs gluten testing on gluten-free products and shares that information with the gluten-free community. They've tested many gluten-free products over the years, and collected data from their efforts.
Over the past five years, Gluten Free Watchdog has been testing oat products labeled gluten-free that list oats as the first or second ingredient. In all, they've done professional testing on thirty-five different commercial products. They've recently released their findings, and while they don't name any names, they do offer some good general insight into gluten-contamination levels in general.
Based on testing data from Gluten Free Watchdog, oat products labeled gluten-free have an almost three times higher risk of gluten contamination as compared to labeled gluten-free foods as a whole. The results showed 28 of 35 or 80% of oat products testing below 5 parts per million of gluten, and 2 of 35 or 6% of oat products testing at or above 5 ppm but below 20 ppm of gluten. Meanwhile, 5 of 35 or 14% of oat products tested at or above 20 ppm of gluten.
The good news, of course, is that 86% percent oat products tested below 20 parts per million of gluten, but that's not nearly as good as the 95% of all gluten-free foods tested to date that have tested below 20 ppm of gluten.
So, the bad news is that the 14% of oat products testing at or above 20 ppm of gluten is nearly three times higher than for gluten-free foods in general.
Main culprits testing at or above 20 ppm of gluten included "gluten-free" labeled oat breadcrumbs, rolled oats, granola, hot oat cereal, and granola.
Gluten Free Watchdog's main recommendation for consumers is to know the source of the oats you are eating, and to make sure you're getting your oats form a safe and trustworthy source. If you have a concern, check with the manufacturer to make sure they source ALL oats from a supplier of purity protocol oats, such as GF Harvest, Avena, Montana Gluten-Free.
Read more at Gluten-free Watchdog.org.
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Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.View all articles by Jefferson Adams