Tuesday, 17 June 2014

‘Clarifying a pack of Oats as Gluten Free - is a confusing process’

So, you’re on a Gluten Free diet, turn to Google for a new eating plan and to your delight, find you
can still enjoy a warm bowl of Gluten Free Oats for breakfast or added to your favourite smoothie. 

But if you live in Australia or New Zealand - reading these wonderful recipes for ‘Gluten Free Oats’ is as far as your tantalized taste-buds go - because getting a certified pack is a confusing process.   One requiring a bit of an explanation! 

‘Technically there is no bag labelled ‘Gluten Free Oats‘ here in Australia or New Zealand, meanwhile in the USA and other countries the same product is labelled, advertised and sold as Gluten Free Oats,’ says Kylie Hollonds, Director of GK Gluten Free Foods & Whatcanieat.com.au Directory, based in Toowoomba.   She along with partner Garry McGeorge have imported oats they brand ‘Gloriously Free Uncontaminated Oats’ from a USA based company, GF Harvest, for the past 5 years.  

It isn’t Gluten Free and... then again it is.  Confused?

Ms Hollonds understands the dilemma having fielded thousands of enquiries from retailers and consumers wanting to buy the oats for their Google inspired recipes, but are stumped and very confused when she explains it isn’t labelled ‘Gluten Free’.

Although ‘Gloriously Free Uncontaminated Oats’ can be labelled gluten free in other countries, the FSANZ (Food Standards Australia New Zealand) prohibits the labelling of any form of oats or oat products sold here as such.   This is because the gluten fraction in Oats called Avenin is undetectable by current gluten free testing due to its amino acid makeup, which is quite different to the gluten found in wheat, rye and barley. 

“Education highlighting our food labelling laws pertaining to oats is necessary to help consumers make an informed decision because right now they’re confused”, says Ms Hollond’s.  Who suggests the standard is out of date and high time it was updated aligning Australia with the rest of the world.

Also further exasperating the situation is the fact farms here grow a range of crops including oats so there’s a high probability it will be exposed to cross contamination to the gluten found in wheat, rye and barley and machinery and facilities used in production. 

GF Harvest in the USA from which ‘GF Uncontaminated Oats’ are sourced, only grow oats, having gone through years of compliance with US FDA (United States Food Drug Administration) standards, therefore cross contamination isn’t an issue.

As a duty of care however to Coeliac sufferers, whose reaction to gluten can be serious. Ms Hollonds recommends to consult your health care professional for an informed evaluation of your personal situation. 

While Coeliac Australia don’t recommend oats within the gluten free diet a statement on their website mentions that as many as 4 in 5 or 80% with the disease can tolerate uncontaminated oats in small quantities without causing symptoms or damage to the small intestine.

As the Director of Whatcanieat.com.au Directory - an online platform offering solutions, advice and products to consumers with food intolerances, allergies and sensitivities - you can be assured Kylie Hollonds literally does care about what you can eat. 

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