So I haven’t been sleeping. Like…at all. Went to bed last night at 11. Finally, at 6AM, after zero sleep, I gave up and went to work. What does this have to do with oats? Absolutely nothing. I’m just tired.
Ok…oats and celiac disease. Celiac disease and oats. What’s fact? What’s fiction? And why can’t I sleep (sorry)? Let’s go to Google and type in “are oats gluten-free” and see what comes up.
Celiac Disease Center: A large body of scientific evidence accumulated over more than 15 years has proven that oats are completely safe for the vast majority of celiac patients.
Beyond Celiac: “Be sure to use oats that are “pure, uncontaminated,” “gluten-free,” or “certified gluten-free.” Experts believe that up to 50g of dry gluten-free oats a day are considered safe.”
Bob’s Red Mill: “The short answer to the question of oats being gluten free is a resounding yes, however there are always considerations to think about if you have any kind of sensitivity.”
Gluten Dude (2015): “If they are grown/processed in the same facility that grows/processes other grains like wheat and barley, they are bound to be contaminated to the point they are not remotely safe.”
I think I speak for the community when I say HUH?
A quick history lesson about oats and gluten
Taken right from the Gluten-free Watchdog site, cause she’s a heck of a lot smarter than I am: “The main issue with oats is cross contact with wheat, barley, and rye. This cross contact can occur anywhere from the field to the mill to the food processing facility. Oats may be grown in rotation with or in proximity to wheat, barley, or rye. If so, it is likely that there will be errant wheat, barley, or rye grain growing in the oat field that will be harvested along with the oats. The same harvesting, transporting, and storing equipment/facilities may be used for oats as well as for wheat, barley, and rye. All of these factors contribute to the presence of wheat, barley, and rye grain in standard oats.”
Now…I’d like you to study the following picture. No…there won’t be a test.
Did you know that most gluten-free products that contain oats are not certified gluten-free oats? Meaning they are using oats just like the ones above. Yep…really cross-contaminated. Sure you’ve got your companies like Cheerios who say their product is safe because they have a “sorting process”. But the sorting process is NOT the same as using purity protocol oats. Purity protocol oats are those that are grown separately from other seeds.
Confident now? I didn’t think so.
Which brings us to exhibit A of why we can’t trust oats…
A company called Sogud had a recall. It seemed some of their gluten-free products…had gluten. Now I assumed the company made a bevy of products, some of which had gluten and some which didn’t, and a mistake happened in the factory. But after perusing their website, I noticed that ALL of their products were gluten-free. So how the heck did some of the products have gluten??? Curious mind (me) wanted to know. So I emailed them. Here’s how the conversation went down.
Sogud: Let me explain why we are withdrawing 3 of our 5 products. As a family business, we have created genuinely healthy, nutritious and tasty Gluten Free products because we care about people’s health, especially those struggling with food sensitivities and allergies. Because we work hard to uphold our high standards of production, we proactively test our products regularly for Gluten content. The latest test showed that our 3 oat bars where slightly over the gluten threshold of 20 parts per million. Since the 2 seed products (Seed & Apricot and Seed & Walnut Squares) were not affected we tested the oat ingredients being used and found 2 of the 3 oat ingredients were very high in gluten, which had caused the gluten spike in our products. This resulted in us withdrawing all our oat squares and making sure customers are aware of the high gluten levels.
So, you will probably wonder if we were using Gluten Free Oats to make our products. The answer is No, as to date the gluten content of oats has been extremely low. We don’t know why this has changed, but we are now using certified Gluten Free Oats to make sure this does not happen again. As you can imagine this is an expensive and very unpleasant experience!
GD, we would be happy to send you some of our Seed products to taste, and would love to hear what you think about them. Also, if you would like to write a blog about us to tell your community that some producers REALLY care and are trying to do things the right way, we would be delighted to do so.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
GD: Hi folks. Really appreciate the explanation. Two quick questions: 1) Aren’t the tests done BEFORE the products are put on the shelves. 2) Which brand of certified gf oats will you be using? Thanks.
Sogud: Yes, our products were tested in about May this year, to make sure we could use GF claims on our packaging. This last test was a routine retest, which as it turned out was just as well. We are sourcing GF oats as we speak, and retesting the made products to make sure the results are within the 20 ppm threshold., before allowing them back into the market. It’s painfully expensive and time consuming but we feel its essential to be sure our products are safe and we are confident in the Gluten content. As soon as we make a decision I will let you know who our supplier is.
And…end of story. So a few Dude notes here:
- This is not an attack on the company. They effed up, owned up to it, did a recall, and are changing the way they do things to hopefully make it safer for the celiac community.
- If the products were tested in May, how did they still get on the store shelves??
- Kinda humorous they offered to send me some of their products. I know it was done in good faith but still…
Now go back and look at that picture. Any gluten-free product that has oats that are not certified gluten-free has a decent chance to be over 20ppm. This is just a fact, no matter what the “experts” say. So the big question is…
Which companies are NOT using certified gf oats?
I REALLY need to be careful here. And again…when I say “certified”, I mean those produced under the purity protocol. I’m not going to do a full list here, but just the names you may know: Kind Bar, Bakery on Main, Bob’s Red Mill, Cheerios, Lucky Charms.
(And you wonder why I have no advertisers)
This is not an exhaustive list. I strongly recommend you check out GF Watchdog, who has done a boat load of research on this. Here are a few of her articles:
Bottom line? Buyer beware when it comes to oats. And as always…listen to your body.
Now…where was I. Oh yeah…