Are Oats Gluten Free?

You know those things that should be so simple but end up being annoyingly complicated? Like which of these six remotes will actually turn on the TV, or how to retrieve the lost string inside your hoodie?  

Yeah. Such is the case with oats and their gluten-free-ness. So what’s the deal? Are oats gluten-free? The simple answer is yes, oats are a naturally gluten-free grain. But I think you know what I’m about to say…that’s not the end of the story.

gluten free oats

See, here’s where things get tricky: contamination. Most oats are processed in facilities that also process things like wheat, barley, and rye — so cross-contact is possible.

If they are transported, stored, or milled using the same equipment, trace amounts of gluten from these other grains can find their way into the oats.

Another way oats become contaminated starts even earlier in the process — when oats in the field are grown in close proximity to wheat, barley, or rye. In these cases, it’s difficult to keep some stray seeds of the other grains out of the oat field, and they can end up being harvested along with the oats.

So, because it’s pretty easy for some sneaky gluten to creep its way into oats at various stages of the process, conventionally grown oats are not the safest option for those adhering to a gluten-free diet. Even the smallest amount of gluten can cause severe problems for those with celiac disease and other gluten intolerances, so we just can’t trust that standard oats are a decidedly gluten-free product.

Fortunately it’s very easy to find certifiably gluten free oats these days! These oats come from suppliers who source the grain from manufacturers that maintain a strict protocol during all the steps of production — from the farm to the processing plant.  

So the lesson, as usual, is to always check your food labels. Look for that certified gluten-free symbol on the packaging — you know the one, the GF initials inside the circle.  And you can always be sure that here at Maxine’s Heavenly we only use verifiably gluten-free oats, ‘cause we all deserve to be worry-free when we’re cookie-ing!