To ‘bold’ oats or not to ‘bold’ oats – that is the question

Hot on the heals of my last blog about oats, gluten and allergen labelling I had a look at some of the oat based products in my larder and others online.

It would seem that there is a split in the market. Many companies are labelling oats in bold but just as many are not.

Of the products I buy and had in the house none had oats labelling in bold, including the Nairns and Provitamil oat drink. So are they wrong?

Are both ways of labelling correct?

And if they tell us whether the oats are gluten and wheat free or not does it even really matter anyway?

Read this blog on Food Allergy and Intolerance Ink, “Hiccups and FIC-ups” for the reasons behind these changes to the labelling laws and how things should be bolded and stated on packs. The regulations came into law in December 2014 which is ample time for companies to get their labelling sorted…

It would seem that companies making oat based products should all be stating the oats in bold. I will be writing to the companies here who haven’t with a link to this blog so they can investigate accordingly. I am still slightly confused about what is best but since I don’t have to worry about oats as such, just the wheat contamination, all I want to know is that products are gluten free or wheat free, which are not always the same thing. Gluten free products can have de-glutenised wheat added back in – not great if you react to other parts of wheat.

Here are the few products that I looked at below:

Sainsbury’s label their gluten free oat products with oats in bold. e.g. Ingredients: Pure Oats (100%) Gluten free, wheat free and milk free

Nairns don't bold oats in their labelling

Nairns don’t bold oats in their labelling

Nairns don’t label their oat based products with oats in bold.

However they do specify when gluten free oats are used on the pack and warn customers that oats do contain the protein avenin which can cause an allergic reaction.

I also love their nut warnings. By stating that the factory and product is nut free I feel safe to eat this product.

They cannot declare the products ‘nut free’ without this proviso.

Udi’s gluten free products do show oats in bold on all their oat based products.

Udi' gluten free products show oats in bold

Udi’ gluten free products show oats in bold

Provitamil oat drink does not label oats in bold

Provitamil oat drink does not label oats in bold

Provitamil don’t label oats in bold but they do bold the word gluten in the (contains GLUTEN) warning.

It’s not clear whether this means the oats may contain wheat or just avenin naturally occurring in the oats but I have been enjoying this milk on my cereal with with no adverse effects so I’m pretty certain it is wheat free!

Bob’s Red Mill Apple and Blueberry Granola, also don’t label the oats in bold but do state that the product is wheat and gluten free.

e.g. Ingredients: Whole Grain Rolled Oats, Cane Sugar, Brown Rice, Mixed Fruit Blend Concentrate (Pineapple, Pear, Peach), Unsulphured Dried Apples, Brown Rice Syrup, Natural Blueberry Flavor, Blueberry Concentrate, Vitamin E.

Oatly don’t label their oats in bold either – another product you’ll find in my larder.

Now I feel like it’s somehow my fault… all the oat based products I have in my house are not showing oats in bold… hence my confusion on the whole subject I’m guessing. I would kind of assume the companies making these products would understand more about their labelling than a very humble blogger.

I look at just six products and out of the six, only two of the companies were stating oats in bold, these were Sainsbury’s and Udi’s gluten free. All the rest were not showing oats in bold or were showing gluten in bold, which is also technically incorrect.

But does it really matter? All these companies make great products which make our allergic lives so much easier. We applaud them all for that.

Maybe they’re using up old packaging and will update their labelling soon or maybe they didn’t understand this oaty issue either. It’s good to know that I am not alone in being confused about the oat labelling.

Do you have any oat based products at home in your larder? Do they show oats in bold?

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About Ruth

Ruth works freelance as a copywriter and writes the What Allergy blog to share information with people who have allergies, eczema, asthma and food intolerances. was voted in the top 5 allergy blogs and Ruth also judges regularly for the FreeFrom Food Awards and FreeFrom Skincare Awards. She also won the Foods You Can People's choice Best FreeFrom blogger award 2014.


  1. I had a lovely comment from Jean, a coeliac who CAN eat oats! Hi
    I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease 16 years ago just before my 50 th birthday after a lifetime of ill health. I asked about 8 years ago if I could do an oat challenge at an annual review appointment & it was suggested that I eat 2 gluten free oatcakes a day for 6 months the consultant took blood that day & I went back after 6 months & results were fine so I’m able to eat Pure uncontaminated Oats but I know lots of Coeliacs who can’t tolerate them at all
    I’m local GO of CUMBRIAN VS group of CUK we have approx 850 members
    I’m also Scottish so I’m happy that I am able to eat oats as I love my porridge at breakfast & flapjack was one thing I missed after diagnosis
    Jean Foster

  2. This is what Nairns replied with:

    Thanks for passing this on. It’s a tricky one when it comes to oats as some aren’t gluten free so are an allergen. On our wheat free range packs the oats are always in bold. This is because the oats aren’t farmed, milled or baked separately or in controlled conditions so we can’t guarantee that they won’t be contaminated by gluten containing grains. Our gluten free range however doesn’t have the oats in bold in the ingredients list as the oats we source are gluten free after being grown, milled and baked in completely separate, controlled conditions to ensure that there is no cross contamination. As you’ve mentioned we do also have the Avenin warning on our packs to ensure consumers are aware of our products containing this.

    I hope this helps to explain why certain products of our have oats in bold and others don’t just let me know if you have any other questions!

    Have a lovely weekend, Jenny

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