Gluten is the name given to the protein in wheat, rye, barley and oats. It is a composite name representing -
gliadin in wheat
hordein in barley
secalin in rye
avenin in oats
The current laboratory tests can only measure gliadin, hordein and secalin - not avenin as it is a slightly different protein.
When gluten free oats are discussed, it means they are free from wheat contamination (gliadin, hordein and secalin).
Avenin is an essential part of oats and will never be truly gluten free even if they are described as being gluten free.
Research by our patron Dr Robert Anderson has shown that approximately one in five people with coeliac disease react to pure, uncontaminated oats.
Since we cannot determine who is the one in five is who react to pure oats and we know that gut damage can occur even without symptoms, the advice of both Dr Anderson and Coeliac New Zealand is that oats should not be consumed. The only exception is if you receive a gastroscopy/biopsy before commencing eating oats, and after you have been consuming them for a time. This is currently the only test that can say whether it is safe for you to consume oats on a gluten free diet.
Note: Under the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, oats and their products are not permitted in foods that are labelled gluten free.