Gluten-free organic whole-grain oats

Gluten-free oats from Europe

For centuries, oats have been a popular grain and are important for a well-rounded, healthy diet. In order for people suffering from celiac disease (gluten intolerance and damage to the small intestine) to be able to enjoy this beneficial foodstuff, production began years ago on gluten-free organic whole-grain oats. In Scandinavia, the US, and Canada, gluten-free oats have long been a fixture in gluten-free diets. The Finnish Celiac Society has promoted this variety of oats since 1997. In 2009 it was accepted into the European Commission’s list of ingredients for gluten-free products.

Where do gluten-free organic whole-grain oats come from?

The gluten-free organic oats in our BERTRAND liquid meals are procured from countries in the European Union. Main suppliers include Denmark and Finland. The Nordic countries have many years of experience in producing uncontaminated oats. This is especially true for Finland, a country famous the world over for its research into oats. 14 percent of European oats are produced here. In fact, ecologically grown oats from Finland make up a considerable share of worldwide production. This also includes more and more gluten-free oats.

The grain is grown on special fields reserved for years for the cultivation of oats. This is to ensure there are virtually no traces of other types of grain from earlier crop cultivation. The surroundings of the fields are kept free from cereal cultivation as well to prevent the contamination of the oats, for example by the wind.

Denmark is an important supplier of gluten-free oats

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14 percent of European oats are produced here.

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How are gluten-free oats produced?

Oats are gluten-free by nature. However, they are not suitable for consumption by people with celiac disease. This is because contaminants find their way into the oats throughout the process of cultivation, harvest, storage, and further processing, which precludes use of the cereal for those affected. And so we need a sophisticated process that is well coordinated throughout all phases of production and is governed by strict guidelines. The European Commission’s implementing regulation (no. 828/214) states: “Oats contained in food presented as gluten-free (…) must have been specially produced, prepared and/or processed in a way to avoid contamination by wheat, rye, barley, or their crossbred varieties; the gluten content of such oats must not exceed 20 mg/kg.”



It all starts with perfectly pure seeds. It is essential at this stage to make absolutely sure that there is nothing mixed in with the oat seeds. The second step is the selection of fields. It must be ensured that, for at least two years, no wheat or other grain that contains gluten has been grown in the same soil.



After harvesting, the oats will be stored for further processing. They need to undergo a drying process so residual moisture can be extracted. If the oats were too moist during storage, they could get infested with fungi or pests. The oats must strictly be stored separately from other grains.




To lend the oats a light, nutty roasted flavor, a grain drier is used for drying. This ancient method for drying and torrefying foodstuffs uses dry heat for preservation.




The oats are husked, setting free the bare, digestible grain also known as groats. This means that the husks are removed. So the oats won’t turn rancid, the bran is removed as well. All the valuable contents of the oat grain are preserved throughout all of these processes.




In order for the gluten-free oats to be usable for our BERTRAND liquid meals, they must be ground to a fine powder. Also, this process makes the oats, with their high content of soluble fiber, easier to digest and allows for better absorption of the nutrients. This means that a powdered liquid meal is highly beneficial in terms of nutrient utilization.




For all the processing steps up to this point, there can be no absolute guarantee that there is no contamination by tiny metal particles in the powdered oats. This is because all of these steps use machines and tools mainly made from metal. And therefore the final step is metal detection. For this we use systems that can detect this kind of contamination to ensure a safe final product.


But why oats?

Oats are a staple with an extremely balanced mix of basic nutrients. We want to make these nutrients available to the small number of people with celiac disease among our liquid meal customers, even though they only account for a very small percentage of the population.

The lowdown on oats: their protein content is comprised of more than just a large and diverse assortment of essential amino acids. At about 12 percent, their protein content is also significantly higher than those of other grain varieties, and higher than corn, millet, and rice. We want to take advantage of this super protein mix for our BERTRAND liquid meals, as proteins are not just vital nutrients but also very filling. The long chain carbohydrates in oats release energy over a long period of time as they are only converted slowly into sugar, keeping blood sugar levels stable. For athletes, oats are an ideal sports food due to their nutritional profile and their caloric content of 350 kilocalories per 100 grams.

Oats also contain the polyunsaturated fatty acids oleic and linoleic acid. Where vitamins are concerned, oats shine with important B vitamins. Last but not least, the cereal is high in fiber. As most people don’t eat enough fiber, we find it particularly important to provide a good supply.

Oats may not contain any gluten, but they do contain a protein component called avenin. This is a prolamine roughly equivalent to the gluten in wheat. It is, however, usually well-tolerated by people affected by celiac disease because it has a different composition. Only a few people react to it with avenin intolerance. This is why gluten-free oats are categorized as suitable for a gluten-free diet by the German Celiac Disease Society.

Planning against gluten contaminants

The same directive applies to all production steps: contamination, even by the smallest quantity of glutenous substance, must be ruled out during each phase of the technical processing of the oats. This is ensured by machines specially designed for processing gluten-free oats and by frequent checks.

How can we guarantee the absence of gluten?

At BERTRAND, we guarantee that our liquid meals are gluten free. All our products are subject to a risk management system, and gluten-free oats are very high on the list. We exclusively source our oats from growers who are certified, that is, licensed by the German Celiac Disease Society. These growers are required to provide evidence that they use suitable gluten-free production techniques. We also have strict incoming-goods inspections in place. This means that our suppliers must first demonstrate to our satisfaction that they pass what is called the ELISA test (ELISA = enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay). ELISA is a proven and validated antibody-based verification procedure based on the R5 antibody. It classifies a foodstuff as gluten free if it contains less than 20 mg of gluten per kilogram. In addition to this, our incoming-goods inspection uses lateral-flow tests. These serve to ensure that all of our machines and working surfaces that will be in contact with the supplied oats are free of contamination. As an additional measure, we conduct product inspections several times over the course of a year with samples being taken and checked at irregular intervals. All of these tasks are carried out and documented by specially trained employees.

External checks are conducted by Soest district food control and the independent inspection body ABCERT. These bodies monitor product safety and hygiene.

  1. Photo of an oat field at the top of the page: Sata Production via Shutterstock
  2. Map of Europe: teka12 via Shutterstock



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