Since last May, Health Canada allows gluten-free claims labelling for specially produced “pure oats” with gluten content under 20 ppm.
As mentioned by Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, “these changes will make it easier for Canadians with celiac disease to make safe and informed food choices. By allowing a gluten-free claim on specially produced oats and foods that contain them, consumers with gluten sensitivities will be better able to identify products they can safely eat.”
People with celiac disease should continue to avoid regular oats. Oats don’t contain gluten, but rather a protein called avenin, that is non-toxic. Problems can occur if oats are produced in the same place as wheat, barley and rye, as the oats can become contaminated with these other grains. To help memorise which grain to avoid, we use the abbreviation BROW (B for barley, R for rye, O for oats (if not certified “gluten-free”), and W for wheat).
Quick Facts about Gluten-Free Oats
Celiac disease is an inherited medical condition that is triggered by the consumption of gluten. The immune system of an individual with celiac disease reacts negatively to gluten in the diet by causing damage to the inner lining of the small intestine, which reduces the person’s ability to absorb nutrients.
Health Canada’s decision is based on current scientific evidence, which shows that it is safe for the majority of people with celiac disease to eat specially produced oats, so long as they do not contain more than 20 parts per million of gluten from wheat, rye, barley or their hybridized strains.
This labelling change opens a new segment of the market to Canadian oat growers and food processors. The opportunity to reach customers with gluten-free diets will increase farmers’ revenue for oats, which in 2014 contributed nearly half a billion dollars to Canada’s economy.
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