Most Quaker Oats products are gluten-free, with the exception of a few varieties that contain barley or wheat. Plain unflavored Quaker rolled oats and quick oats are gluten-free. Flavored instant oatmeal packets, Quaker oat granola, and Quaker oat bars that are labeled “gluten-free” are also safe options. However, it’s important to double check the ingredients list for gluten-containing grains before consuming.
Overview of Gluten
Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine. This can lead to symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, and nutritional deficiencies. The only treatment for celiac disease is adhering to a strict lifelong gluten-free diet. People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may also need to avoid gluten to manage symptoms.
To avoid gluten, all foods and beverages containing wheat, barley, rye, and related grains like triticale, spelt, and malt must be eliminated from the diet. Oats are naturally gluten-free, but are often contaminated with gluten during growing and processing. For this reason, oats labeled “gluten-free” are recommended for those following a gluten-free diet.
Are Quaker Oats Gluten-Free?
Most Quaker oat products are certified gluten-free to contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. However, it’s important to read labels carefully, as Quaker also makes some products that contain gluten. Here are the key things to know about the gluten status of Quaker oats:
Plain Rolled Oats and Quick Oats
Plain unflavored Quaker rolled oats and quick oats are gluten-free. This includes:
- Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
- Quaker Quick Oats
- Quaker Steel Cut Oats
These oat groats are harvested and processed in dedicated gluten-free facilities to prevent cross-contamination. Independent testing confirms Quaker plain oats contain less than 20 ppm of gluten.
Flavored Instant Oatmeal Packets
Many flavored instant Quaker oatmeal packets are labeled gluten-free, such as:
- Cinnamon Spice Instant Oatmeal
- Apples and Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal
- Maple and Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal
However, always verify the product is labeled “gluten-free” on the packaging. Some Quaker instant oatmeal flavors contain barley malt extract or wheat starch, like their Hearty Oatmeals line.
Granola and Granola Bars
Some Quaker chewy granola bars and granola cereals are labeled gluten-free, such as:
- Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
- Quaker Chewy S’mores Granola Bars
- Quaker Simply Granola Oats, Honey & Almonds
However, not all Quaker granola products are gluten-free, so check the ingredients. Some contain wheat or barley ingredients.
Oat Flour and Oat Bran
Quaker sells both gluten-free oat flour and oat bran. These can be used as flour substitutes in gluten-free baking recipes.
Steel Cut Oatmeal Variety Packets
Quaker’s pre-flavored steel cut oatmeal packets in flavors like cinnamon, maple brown sugar, and apples and cinnamon are labeled gluten-free.
Quaker brands some of their instant oatmeal cups as gluten-free, like their Maple & Brown Sugar and Cinnamon & Spice microwaveable oatmeals. Verify the product is labeled gluten-free.
Quaker Real Medleys Super Grains instant oatmeal with quinoa and other gluten-free ancient grains are certified gluten-free.
Quaker oat milk is labeled gluten-free. This includes their Original and Vanilla Chai flavors.
Quaker Oats to Avoid
Here are some Quaker oat products that contain gluten:
- Instant Oatmeal packets containing wheat, barley malt, or malt extract
- Hot cereals with wheat or barley like Quaker’s Hearty Oatmeals
- Quaker Breakfast Squares and Breakfast Flats which contain wheat flour
- Quaker Multigrain Hot Cereal that contains wheat, barley, and rye
- Quaker Weight Control Instant Oatmeal with whole grain wheat
- Lower Sugar Maple & Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal with barley malt extract
- Any Quaker products containing malt flavoring, malt extract, or malt syrup
Always thoroughly read the ingredients list and only consume flavors that are labeled gluten-free. Cross-contact with gluten is possible during manufacturing, so those with celiac disease need to use extra caution.
Are Quaker Oats Processed in a Facility with Wheat?
While Quaker oats are naturally gluten-free, cross-contamination during growing, harvesting, transport, or processing can introduce small amounts of gluten. Quaker states on their website that all plain and flavored Quaker oats are processed in facilities that also process wheat and barley products.
For this reason, plain Quaker oats are not considered gluten-free by international Codex Alimentarius guidelines, which require all gluten-free foods to be processed in completely gluten-free facilities. However, Quaker oats fall well below the FDA gluten-free labeling threshold of 20 ppm.
Those with celiac disease need to weigh the risks vs benefits of consuming oats from shared facilities. Many can tolerate oats, but a portion of celiacs are sensitive. Consult your doctor.
Testing Confirms Low Gluten Levels in Quaker Oats
Independent testing shows that cross-contact gluten levels in Quaker oats are well below 20 ppm, even though they’re processed in shared facilities:
- Gluten Free Watchdog tested 4 samples of Quaker old fashioned oats. Gluten levels ranged from < 5 ppm to 8 ppm.
- Nima sensor community tests of Quaker oats detected 10 ppm or less of gluten.
- University of Nebraska study found Quaker oats contain 7-8 ppm gluten.
This data indicates the risk of gluten exposure from plain Quaker oats is very low for most people on a gluten-free diet. However, those with celiac disease very sensitive to trace gluten should take extra precautions like thoroughly washing containers and cooking utensils to avoid cross-contact.
How to Include Quaker Oats on a Gluten-Free Diet
Here are some tips for safely including Quaker Oats on a gluten-free diet:
- Always check the label carefully and verify the product is labeled gluten-free
- Avoid any Quaker products containing wheat, barley, rye, malt, or unspecified “natural flavors”
- Look for the certified gluten-free seal
- Stick to plain oats if you are extremely sensitive – they are lower risk for cross-contact than flavored
- Rinse oats before cooking to remove stray grains
- Use clean, designated gluten-free cooking equipment and utensils
- Cook gluten-free oats first, then prepare any gluten-containing foods to avoid cross-contact
through shared pans, stovetops, etc
With proper precautions, most people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity can include Quaker gluten-free oat products safely in their diet. Always discuss your diet with your healthcare team and report any concerns about reactions to oats.
The Benefits of Eating Oats When Gluten-Free
Oats provide valuable nutrients for a gluten-free diet, including:
- Fiber: Oats are rich in viscous fiber that promotes good digestion and heart health.
- Protein: Oats contain high-quality plant protein to support energy and muscle mass.
- Iron: Oats contain a highly bioavailable form of iron to prevent deficiency.
- B Vitamins: Oats are high in thiamin, niacin, folate, and B6.
- Healthy Fats: Oats contain healthy fats like oleic acid and linoleic acid.
- Antioxidants: Unique antioxidants called avenanthramides provide anti-inflammatory benefits.
The fiber in oats also promotes satiety and stable blood sugar levels. This helps reduce unhealthy spikes and crashes in blood glucose. The beta-glucan fiber may additionally help lower cholesterol levels. For those who tolerate them well, oats can be a nutritious addition to a gluten-free diet.
Most Quaker oatmeal products are gluten-free, but it is important to verify by carefully reading the label. Flavored instant oatmeal packets, steel cut oatmeal, overnight oats, oat beverages, and granola labeled gluten-free are safe options. However, some Quaker hot cereals, instant oatmeals, and granola bars contain gluten from wheat, barley, or malt. Stick to unflavored oats if you are highly sensitive, since plain oats like old fashioned and quick oats have the lowest risk of gluten cross-contact during processing. Quaker oats provide fiber, protein, and other important nutrients to support health on a gluten-free diet. Just be diligent about checking labels and taking precautions to prevent cross-contact at home when preparing and storing oats. Consult your healthcare team if you have any concerns about including oats in your gluten-free diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can people with celiac disease eat Quaker oats?
Most people with celiac disease can tolerate Quaker oats, provided they choose an uncontaminated gluten-free variety. Plain rolled or quick oats are safest, since they’re lower risk for cross-contact. Always verify the oats are certified gluten-free.
Why are some Quaker oats not gluten-free?
Some Quaker oatmeal flavors and varieties contain wheat, barley, or malt as ingredients. These are not gluten-free. Quaker also makes some hot cereals and granola that contain gluten sources. Always thoroughly read the label.
Do Quaker oats contain wheat or barley?
Plain Quaker oats do not contain wheat or barley. However, some Quaker Instant Oatmeal and granola flavors do contain barley malt or wheat starch. Oat groats used in Quaker rolled, quick, and steel cut oats are gluten-free but may encounter trace gluten during processing.
Should celiacs avoid oats due to cross-contamination risks?
Small studies show most celiacs can tolerate up to 50 grams dry oats daily without reaction. Work closely with your healthcare provider to determine if including oats is right for your individual needs. Take precautions to avoid cross-contact with gluten.
Can I make gluten-free oatmeal bread with Quaker oats?
Yes, you can use Quaker gluten-free oats to make gluten-free oat bread. Substitute oat flour or blended oats for about 1/4 to 1/2 of the gluten-free flour blend. Reduce other liquids to account for the moisture from oats. Add a binder like xanthan gum to improve the bread structure.
What gluten-free Quaker products are safe for a gluten-free diet?
Safe Quaker products include plain rolled oats, steel cut oats, quick oats, instant oatmeal packets labeled gluten-free, microwaveable oat cups labeled gluten-free, oat beverages, oat bran, oat flour, and granola or bars labeled gluten-free. Always verify the gluten-free status.
Can Quaker oatmeal be contaminated if made in same factory as wheat cereals?
Yes, oats are at risk for cross-contamination with gluten if processed on shared equipment with wheat. Independent testing shows Quaker oats contain trace gluten under 20 ppm. Most gluten-free consumers tolerate Quaker oats well if precautions are taken, but celiacs very sensitive to gluten should take extra care.
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