Quaker Gluten-Free Oatmeal: Gluten Free Watchdog Updated Position StatementTricia Thompson
Bottom Line: Based on all of the information available to us, including Quaker’s testing and our own independent testing, Gluten Free Watchdog does not oppose the use of Quaker gluten-free oatmeal by the celiac disease (and non celiac gluten sensitivity) community.
- Gluten Free Watchdog supports the use of gluten-free oats by the celiac disease (and other gluten-related disorders) community that are produced under a robust gluten-free purity protocol. For examples of purity protocols see the post “Oats produced under a gluten-free purity protocol” available at:
- We do not in general support the use of regular commodity oats that are cleaned at the “end” of production via mechanical and/or optical sorting.
- What we have learned at Gluten Free Watchdog through speaking with three companies (General Mills, Grain Millers, Quaker) is that the processes used to mechanically and optically sort oats to be “gluten-free” are not the same among manufacturers. As a result, each manufacturer using this methodology must be assessed on an individual basis.
- The million-dollar question for each brand of mechanically and optically sorted “gluten-free” oats is whether testing of oat ingredients (e.g., oat groats, oat flour) and finished product (e.g., Quaker oatmeal, Cheerios) is sufficient to find gluten contamination if it is present. Adequate testing is a huge issue due in large part to gluten contamination in oats not being evenly distributed throughout a “lot” of oats.
- We are not necessarily opposed to the use of mechanically and optically sorted oats in the future if their gluten-free status is supported via a rigorous testing protocol.
- Based on all of the information available to us, including Quaker’s testing and our own independent testing, Gluten Free Watchdog does not oppose the use of Quaker gluten-free oatmeal by the celiac disease community. At this time we can not support the use of gluten-free Cheerios or gluten-free products made from oats sourced from other suppliers of mechanically and optically sorted oats (e.g., Grain Millers, La Crosse Milling).
- Ideally we would like to see all gluten-free oats produced under a robust purity protocol AND optically sorted to scan for any errant wheat, barley, or rye grain (in addition to rigorous testing for gluten contamination).
Reminder: If you believe that any labeled gluten-free food made you sick, please contact both your local FDA consumer complaint coordinator and FDA’s MedWatch.
- You can contact MedWatch online at https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/index.cfm?action=reporting.homeor via phone (800) 332-1088. Choose option #4 to speak to a representative.
- A listing of local and regional consumer complaint coordinators is available at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/ReportaProblem/ConsumerComplaintCoordinators/
Background information on Quaker oatmeal: In October 2015, Quaker Oats debuted three gluten-free oatmeal products—Quick 1-Minute Oats, Instant Oatmeal Original, and Instant Oatmeal Maple & Brown Sugar. The oats used in these products are not produced under a gluten-free purity protocol; they are mechanically and optically sorted to be gluten-free. On November 19, 2016 we wrote in the blog post, Quaker Gluten-Free Oatmeal: Take Two https://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/news/quaker-gluten-free-oatmeal-take-two/:
“After a lengthy and relatively transparent conversation with Quaker about their mechanical and optical sorting and testing protocols we are somewhat optimistic that “gluten-free” Quaker oats may be appropriate for individuals with gluten-related disorders. However, at Gluten Free Watchdog we must conduct our own independent testing before a complete assessment of Quaker gluten-free oatmeal products can be made.”
Testing summary: We have completed our testing of Quaker gluten-free instant oatmeal. All 20 extractions tested below 5 parts per million of gluten using the R5 sandwich ELISA Mendez Method (Ridascreen Gliadin R7001). We plan to test Quaker quick 1-minute gluten-free oats when they are available.
We would still like to see Quaker…
- Increase efforts to source oats from farms not growing barley and wheat and/or who routinely provide the cleanest oats.
- Take steps to evenly distribute (via homogenization) any gluten contamination within the 75-gram samples of possible non-oat groats before testing ONE 15-gram sub-sample.
- Use dedicated gluten-free packaging equipment.
For more information on oats please see the post, “The gluten-free oats situation & why it is such a sticky wicket” available at https://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/news/the-gluten-free-oats-situation-why-it-is-such-a-sticky-wicket/
For a summary report on gluten-free Cheerios please see https://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/product/gf-cheerios-combined-datasummary-statement/419