Canada approves gluten-free claim for specially produced oats

by Jeff Gelski
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OTTAWA — Rona Ambrose, Canada’s minister of health, on May 29 reported the country’s approval of gluten-free claims on specially produced oats and foods containing those oats.

People with celiac disease must avoid gluten. While oats do not contain gluten, normal agricultural practices may result in the unintended presence of small amounts of gluten in oats from other grains, including wheat, rye and barley. Health Canada, Ottawa, has said scientific evidence shows it is safe for the majority of people with celiac disease to eat specially produced oats as long as the oats do not contain more than 20 parts per million (p.p.m.) of gluten from wheat, rye, barley or their hybridized strains.

Any reference to oats on the label or in advertisements would have to indicate that they are gluten-free oats. The revision for oats will align Canada with both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Codex Alimentarius standards.

“These changes will make it easier for Canadians with celiac disease to make safe and informed food choices,” Ms. Ambrose said May 29. “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.”

The Canadian Celiac Association, Mississauga, Ont., in 2013 said 1% of Canadians, or 350,000 people, have celiac disease while 6% of Canadians, or 2.1 million people, are sensitive to gluten.

“We are pleased that Health Canada has made important changes that will benefit the celiac community through allowing gluten-free claims on specially produced oats and products containing those oats,” said Anne Wraggett, president of the Canadian Celiac Association, on May 29. “Oats are a nutritious grain and can add variety for those who must follow a strict gluten-free diet for life. The term ‘gluten-free oats’ on labels will make it much easier for the gluten-free consumer to identify products that they can safely eat.”
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