Not all oat milk is gluten-free.
While oat milk should be a gluten-free beverage because oats are naturally free of gluten, this plant-based milk still might not be a safe choice for people with gluten allergies or Celiac disease because of possible cross-contamination on shared equipment.
In this article, we'll tell you what to look out for and give you our picks for the best gluten-free oat milk brands.
Does Oat Milk Contain Gluten?
While oats are naturally free of gluten, some oat milk can still contain this protein without having any gluten-containing ingredients on purpose.
This is mostly because many factories that process oats also process other grains on shared equipment.
This leads to cross-contamination with foods like rye, wheat, barley, and triticale.
In addition, oat is often grown near or on the same farms as wheat, which can also lead to an oat product with trace amounts of gluten – enough to make someone with Celiac Disease ill.
So, while oat milk does not purposely contain gluten, it certainly is possible.
In fact, Canadian and United States studies both showed foods that were labeled gluten-free were not;
What Makes Oat Milk Gluten-Free?
If you come across an oat milk brand that is labeled gluten-free, it generally means that the manufacturer has tested its product to measure that the level of gluten contained in its product is no more than 20 parts per million, but preferably, is zero.
But how can you be sure that the manufacturer is getting its story straight and that you’ll be safe if you consume their beverage?
Look for oat milk that is certified gluten-free or has a Purity Protocol stamp of approval.
Here's more details on how to tell whether or not an oat milk is gluten-free:
Non-Gluten-Free Oat Milk
Non-gluten-free oat milk will not – or at least should not – make a claim that it is a gluten-free beverage.
Often times, they include labels to warn consumers that the product was made in a facility that shares equipment with wheat.
Certified Gluten-Free Oat Milk
Certified gluten-free oat milk is a better bet, but still not perfect.
Certified gluten-free oat milk is generally certified by independent third parties such as the Gluten-Free Certification Organization.
Manufacturers can earn this certification by mechanically sorting oats to reduce the amount of gluten contamination.
However, this is not a flawless system as contamination can get through, so it should not be relied upon for people with severe gluten intolerances.
Purity Protocol Gluten-Free Oat Milk
The best option is to look for producers who use oats that follow the Purity Protocol.
The Purity Protocol is a process that ensures oats:
- Are grown in a field that has been free from growing gluten-containing crops for a number of years
- Are not grown near crops that contain gluten
- Are processed in separate facilities from products like wheat, rye, and barley
Gluten-Free Oat Milk Brands
While there are dozens of oat milk brands on grocery store shelves, knowing what constitutes the good, best, and better versions of gluten-free oat milk can help you decide which product is the right choice for you and your health.
Generally, oat milk that utilizes oats following the Purity Protocol will be more expensive and somewhat harder to find.
Elmhurst Oat Milk
Elmhurst 1925 Milked Oats Unsweetened Oat Milk uses the Purity Protocol to ensure its Canadian oats are gluten-free and safe for people with gluten intolerances.
Most Elmhurst 1925 plant-based milk does not need to be refrigerated until opened.
Califa Farms Oat Milk
Califa Farms’ Extra Creamy Oat Milk is considered gluten-free by the company, which it says follows FDA guidelines to meet the requirement that its milk has less than 20 parts per million gluten.
However, Califa Farms says it cannot guarantee that its oats have not come into contact with gluten-containing crops.
The company uses a mechanical sorting method to prevent gluten-containing grains from reaching that 20 parts per million threshold.
Mooala Oat Milk
Mooala’s Unsweetened Shelf-Stable Gluten-Free Plant-Based Oat Milk comes from a company that states that it uses the Purity Protocol.
Mooala is also certified USDA Organic, and its shelf-stable product makes an excellent addition to any pantry since it lasts much longer than refrigerated milk that can quickly expire.
Mooala is considered Climate Pledge Friendly by Amazon, meaning it’s a product that supports Amazon’s commitment to sustainability and natural world preservation.
Oatly Oatmilk Chilled states that this oat milk is gluten-free and safe for people with gluten intolerances, as outlined by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act.
Oatly also says that some of its partner production facilities do process common allergens like wheat, peanuts, milk, eggs, and soy, but that those facilities also follow consumer protection protocols.
Oatly says it tests its products upon completion to make sure that they are allergen-free.
It does not, however, follow the Purity Protocol.
Planet Oat Unsweetened Original Oat Milk states on its label that it is free from gluten, dairy, peanuts, soy, lactose, and artificial additives.
However, according to one Celiac sufferer, a call to the company revealed that Planet Oat does not use Purity Protocol oats in its product.
However, Planet Oat confirmed that it does use ingredients certified by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization and that none of the other ingredients in its product contain gluten.
BetterBody Foods’ Oatsome Oat Milk is dairy, nut, gum, GMO, and gluten-free.
It is also certified organic.
The company says that its oats come from a gluten-free farm in Southern England, and its oats are processed per the Purity Protocol – going so far as to make sure the oats are shipped separately from gluten-containing foods.
Using these methods, Oatsome Oat Milk has less than five parts per million gluten.
Are Oats Gluten-Free?
Oats are a naturally gluten-free food.
Depending on how they are grown, processed, and shipped, they can become contaminated with gluten by shared fields, equipment, and packaging that contains wheat and other gluten-containing grains.
Is Silk Oat Milk Gluten-Free?
Original Silk Oat Milk in Canada and the US is gluten-free, as stated by the company on its packaging and on its website.
Silk says that its products are suitable for people who have gluten allergies because it uses a specific process that can detect whether gluten or gluten components have contaminated the product.
Is Chobani Oat Milk Gluten-Free?
Chobani states that its Chobani Oat Milk is gluten-free and that it contains only whole-grain oats from Saskatchewan, Canada.
Chobani follows the FDA guidelines of having no more than 20 parts per million gluten included in its oat milk product.
Is Kirkland Oat Milk Gluten-Free?
Kirkland Signature’s Non-Dairy Oat Milk Beverage is not gluten-free.
The product does not claim to be gluten-free on its packaging, nor does it reference any gluten-free certifications.
Is Dunkin Oat Milk Gluten-Free?
Dunkin’s oat milk is provided by Planet Oat, an oat milk producer that sources all of its oats from North America.
Planet Oat says its oat milk is gluten-free, and its ingredients are certified by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization.
Is Starbucks Oat Milk Gluten-Free?
Starbucks sources its oat milk from Oatly, an oat milk producer that says on its website that its oat milk is a gluten-free product.
However, Starbucks shares its equipment with various milk and ingredients, so cross-contamination is still possible.
Is Pacific Oat Milk Gluten-Free?
Pacific Foods does not claim that its oat milk product is gluten-free.
Pacific Foods states that cross-contamination with wheat products is possible because of how crop rotation occurs.
So, is oat milk gluten-free? The answer, unfortunately, is that it’s complicated.
For people who suffer from severe gluten allergies or intolerances, it’s best to do your research into specific brands before you make an oat milk purchase because their protocols vary widely.
If your gluten sensitivities are mild, most oat milk claiming to be gluten-free is probably safe for you, as they should contain less than 20 parts per million gluten according to consumer safety acts.
But know that if not independently certified, oat milk producers are held to their own standards for gluten-free products, and those standards aren’t the same across the board.
In addition, products sold under the same name in different countries can also have different ingredient lists, so always check the fine print.