Gluten Contamination Levels of Oat Products Labeled Gluten-Free: Summary Test Results from Gluten Free Watchdog
Over the past five years Gluten Free Watchdog has tested 35 different oat products labeled gluten-free that list oats as the first or second ingredient. Bottom line: Based on testing data from Gluten Free Watchdog, oat products labeled gluten-free are at a higher risk of gluten contamination as compared to labeled gluten-free foods as a whole.
- 28/35 or 80% of oat products tested below 5 parts per million of gluten.
- 5/35 or 14% of oat products tested at or above 20 ppm of gluten
- 2/35 or 6% of oat products tested at or above 5 ppm but below 20 ppm of gluten
Note: Approximately 5% of all gluten-free foods tested to date through Gluten Free Watchdog have tested at or above 20 ppm of gluten. The percentage of oat products testing at or above 20 ppm of gluten (i.e., 14%) is higher than for gluten-free foods in general.
Products testing at or above 20 ppm of gluten [testing conducted by Bia Diagnostics, LLC using the sandwich R5 ELISA (Ridascreen Gliadin R7001) and cocktail extraction (Mendez method)]:
- Oat breadcrumbs. Extractions ranged from 9 ppm to > 84 ppm of gluten
- Rolled oats. Extractions ranged from 72 ppm to > 84 ppm of gluten
- Granola. Extractions ranged from < 5 to 50 ppm of gluten
- Hot oat cereal. Extractions ranged from 18 to 73 ppm of gluten
- Granola. Extractions ranged from 16 to 26 ppm of gluten
Note: Based on conversations with the manufacturers of products testing at or above 20 ppm of gluten, oats from suppliers of purity protocol oats were not being used in these five products at the time of original testing. Four of the manufacturers have changed or are in the process of changing oat suppliers. Three of these products have been retested for gluten contamination. These products are now testing below 5 ppm of gluten. One of the manufacturers chose to stop labeling product gluten-free.
- Know your oats! Make sure you are sourcing oats from a supplier of purity protocol oats (e.g., GF Harvest, Avena, Montana Gluten-Free). At this time Gluten Free Watchdog does not recommend any of the commercial suppliers of mechanically and optically sorted oats (e.g., Grain Millers, LaCrosse Milling).
- Ask for test results. Regardless of where you source oats, ask your supplier to provide you with test results, including how frequently oats are tested and what assay is used for testing.
- Test the oats. There is no such thing as too much testing. Send samples of oats to a third party lab for testing using the sandwich R5 ELISA and cocktail extraction. Labs include Bia Diagnostics and FARRP.
- Know the source of the oats you are eating. If a manufacturer will not answer the question, “Do you source ALL of your oats from a supplier of purity protocol oats” don’t eat the oats (if purity protocol oats are important to you).