Healthy Living

Gluten - Clarification from Coeliacs NZ Incorporated (June 2009)

Information on the Gluten contained in oats.
Response from The Coeliacs New Zealand Incorporated June 2009.

While some Coeliacs can tolerate oats, others can’t so it’s therefore unwise for us to ever ‘recommend’ oats as we would not want to recommend 20% of Coeliacs to get sick.

We offer this statement to Coeliacs who ask the question ‘Can I eat oats’:

“Gluten is the name given to the protein in wheat, rye, barley and oats that affect people with Coeliac disease. It is a composite name representing –

  • Gliadin in Wheat
  • Hordein in Barley
  • Secalin in Rye
  • Avenin in Oats

The current tests for gluten can measure gliadin, hordein, and secalin but not avenin as it is a slightly different protein.

So when people discuss gluten free oats (and laboratories advise that oats are gluten free) what should be said is that they are free from wheat (and rye, barley) gliadin i.e. there is no measurable contamination.

Avenin is an essential part of oats (as gliadin is with wheat). Oats will never be gluten (ie avenin) free [even if they are described as gluten (i.e. gliadin) free].

As mentioned in our magazine on several occasions, Bob Anderson has found that approximately 1:5 (20%) of people with Coeliac disease react to pure uncontaminated oats i.e. they react to oat avenin.

Since we cannot determine who is the 1:5 (20%) and we know that damage can occur in the absence of symptoms, our advice is that oats should not be consumed without a biopsy prior to and during consumption.”

Coeliac New Zealand Incorporated