Gluten Free Guerrillas

What can we do about supermarkets using oat flour in gluten free products?

I've been a coeliac for nearly 30 years and have seen the great growth in gluten free products available in supermarkets but the latest trend is for them to change the recipes in their gluten free biscuits and use oat flour. I have unknowingly purchased these biscuits from Tescos and from Co-op and found that although they do not give me a full allergic reaction they give me feelings of nausea and of not feeling well. I can see the other supermarkets following suit and this means more products that should be suitable for me I am now not allowed to eat. I understand these are probably technically gluten free under the code but there are many coeliacs that are sensitive to oats so I don't think they should be in gluten free products and want to know how to get this message across so the whole range doesn't end up not being suitable.

It's not like the biscuits even taste any better, if they were now more delicious or healthier then I might understand why people would want them to stay this way and then I could just deal with not being able to have them myself.

4 Replies

My understanding is that about one in five (or 20%) of the Celiac population is intolerant of oats, even when they are certified gluten free (please correct me if I'm wrong). I sympathize with your problem and know first hand how frustrating it can be to not be able to eat a product that is gluten free because of other ingredients. I can't eat corn or rice in addition to the other gluten bearing grains. That takes numerous products off my shopping list and forces me to be creative in the kitchen. I can however eat oats. There are many heart health benefits from eating oats for those who are not sensitive. I think we each should focus on our individual needs, as unique as we are, and carefully read labels. Not every product is for every person. When in doubt, make your own.


What worries me about oats is coeliac are advised not to introduce oats for the first year after diagnoisis and adult coeliac are advised not to eat more than 50g per day and children 20g And to introduce oats gradually! So why is this if oats are gluten free? And so safe for coeliac.

My understanding of oats is that they are a cross between wheat and barley and there are many strains of oats some of which appear safe for coeliac in small amounts because avenin (oat gluten) is in a smaller concentration eg: similar to the amount of gluten in codex.

When oats were first being seen as safe for some coeliac in Finland and ''pure'' oats were seen as being naturally low in oat gluten.

Saying oats are a healthy food is like saying malt is healthy as breakfast cereals were fortified with malt to increase the iron in the cereal. And we all know that some coeliac can tolerate malted cereals.

What also worries me about oats being seen as 100% gf by food manufacturers and labeled as gf is when biscuits for instance are bought for coeliac children by their friends parents.

What can coeliac do about it? I have written to the Co-op who are my local supermarket and told them that I boycott their free from shelves because of the oat products on them and said why. I have received a thank you from them and they sent my message to their labeling dept. I also avoid the free from shelves in Tesco's so they have lost my business. I also wrote to CUK and they just told me that many coeliac had voiced similar concerns.

This is a blog that I made in August about ''pure'' oats


I agree this is a problem, maybe there should be an oats warning on the packaging and will supermarkets become lazy and just add any oats through lack of understanding of the problems this will cause.


I think the solution to this is positive pester power. Whilst it's great to chat on here if we all wrote to the supermarkets chains and asked them to pass on our comments to the buyers I am sure they'd take note. Remember the free from market is huge so they are keen to win the Coeliac and dairy free, nut free, etc pound.


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