Oats – Are They Gluten Free?
Oats are considered to be among the most controversial of the grains because in and of themselves they are not considered gluten free. However, they may be subject to what is called cross contamination. This happens when a grain comes in contact with another. This could happen from many different sources, such as rotation of crops as well as cooking environments.
A lot of farmers that deal with oats often include in the rotation, other grains like wheat, barley, rye and a host of others. It must be noted that the comparison that we’re discussing is with the grains that usually have gluten since that is where the problem lies. Advanced farming techniques have taught us that rotating crops produces better outcome but this rotation usually happens at a cost, there are residual gluten sources from the wheat, barley, or rye when it’s the time for oats \to grow.
A lot of grains are transported by rail and such cars are rarely fully sanitized to get rid of products that may have been transported previously. This could only mean that if it’s time for oats to be transported and any preceding transport was for any of those other grains, contamination may happen.
Generally, if a person is intolerant to gluten but they do not suffer from celiac disease then they can get away with a very little amount of it that may have sneaked in. A person suffering from celiac disease however, can tolerate so little gluten that the risk is totally not worth it. This is heartbreaking too since oats usually are a great source of fiber. But remember that beans are an even better source of fiber and beans are gluten-free.
The industry is sure to get better in its handling of oats, possibly to the point where a person suffering from celiac disease can eat them sans worrying. It’s not so clear if we are at that point already. However, things are already improving. When manufacturers commit to the process, more will take the plunge just because of the competitive nature of markets.