Q: Are oats gluten free or not?
A: It's a little complicated, but the quick answer is that there is still much debate and confusion as to whether or not oats *should* be categorized gluten free.
Scientifically however, oats do not contain gluten, therefore they are gluten-free. However....
When I first went on a gluten free diet, I continued to eat oats. To be clear, I am gluten intolerant and passed on the celiac test, because I had already eliminated wheat long before I thought of testing.
I suffered with gastro-intestinal pains and discomforts that clearly mimic many celiac symptoms and Irritable bowel syndrome.
I did not have health insurance, so I didn't have the luxury of visiting a medical specialist to discuss my issues.
Besides, I didn't intend to ever go back to eating gluten anyway, so I guess I could have used up my money just to confirm what is already obvious.
As I became stricter with my gluten free diet however, I discovered that every time I ate oatmeal I had a reaction similar to some of my previous gluten intolerance symptoms that I had experienced in the past.
So I choose to err on the side of caution.
Then as usual, I decided to look further into it, because I knew that oats aren't really supposed to be one of the four glutinous grains.
Although oats ARE gluten free, it is well known that they are often contaminated and can therefore contain significant amounts of gluten.
This can happen during the handling and processing and storage - where they come into contact with wheat, barley and other glutenous grains.
There are now companies that take great care to make sure their oats are not cross-contaminated.
Bob's Red Mill does carry gluten free oats, but be careful because not all their oats are gluten free. Also check out glutenfreeoats.com