Curious if Nature Valley Bars are gluten free? In this article, I’ll share why so many people on the gluten-free diet are confused by this brand, and I’ll help you determine if Nature Valley bars are safe to eat or not. This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosures.
Nature Valley bars are very popular in the U.S., and somehow I always find one in a goody bag from a kid’s birthday party or served at events as a snack.
I think their popularity is due to the fact that you can buy a big box of them at Costco on the cheap, and they’re pretty good too.
A lot of people in the gluten-free community have asked me if Nature Valley Bars are gluten free, specifically the Crunchy Oats ‘N Honey Bars.
The truth is that most Nature Valley Bars contain oats and are therefore not gluten free for reasons I’ll explain below.
However, there is one “flavor” that does not contain oats and is labeled gluten free, which makes the question, “Are Nature Valley Bars Gluten Free?” a bit more complicated to answer than yes or now.
Which Nature Valley Bars are NOT Gluten Free
While the Nature Valley Oats ‘N Honey Crunchy Bars appear to be gluten free, in reality they are not because they contain oats.
While oats are technically naturally gluten free, they are highly cross contaminated with gluten during the growing, harvesting, and manufacturing processes. In fact, one study found that 109 out of 134 commercial oat products contained mixtures of wheat, barley and rye. You can read more about oats and why they’re not always considered gluten free in my article, Are Oats Gluten Free?
Another confusing aspect of the Nature Valley label is its “contains” or “may contains” statements. Companies are required by law to disclose if a product contains any of the top eight allergens, including wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, milk and eggs. (Please note “gluten” is not considered a top eight allergen, only wheat. Gluten is also found in rye, barley and sometimes oats in addition to wheat.)
Nature Valley’s label says it “contains” soy, and “may contain” peanut, almond and pecan ingredients. But it says nothing about wheat. Truth be told, the label absolutely should say “may contain wheat” as well.
Because the contains statement doesn’t say “may contain wheat,” many gluten-free eaters think it’s safe to consume, but it’s not safe at all.
I also independently tested the Nature Valley Bars with my Nima Sensor, a portable gluten-detecting device. Nima found gluten, offering yet another proof-point that these crunchy bars are not gluten-free safe.
Please note that the Nature Valley Fruit & Nut Bars and the Sweet and Salty Nut Bars also are NOT gluten free (both contain oats).
Are Nature Valley Protein Bars Gluten Free?
While most Nature Valley Bars are not gluten free, Nature Valley Protein Bars are gluten free. Confusing, I know!
You’ll notice the Nature Valley Protein Bars do NOT contain oats and are labeled gluten free. Be sure to look for the “gluten free” claim so you don’t confuse the protein bars with the other Nature Valley bars that contain gluten.
The gluten-free labeled Nature Valley Protein Bars include the following flavors:
- Salted Caramel Nut Protein Bars
- Peanut, Almond and Dark Chocolate Protein Bars
- Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Protein Bars
- Blueberry Nut Protein Bars
I found a big box of the Nature Valley Protein Bars at Costco, and as you can see on the green square, they are clearly labeled gluten free.
Are Nature Valley Bars Gluten Free?
Bottom line, most Nature Valley Bars contain oats, which are highly cross contaminated with wheat and therefore not safe for anyone avoiding gluten to eat.
However, the Nature Valley Protein Chewy Bars do not contain oats and are labeled gluten free. These can safely be consumed on the gluten-free diet.