General Mills admits that they broke their own gluten-free protocol when they did not perform testing on the finished lots of cereal, according to Gluten-Free Living Magazine.
“A sample of gluten-free Honey Nut Cheerios included in Monday’s recall of the cereal contained nearly double the amount of gluten allowed under federal law, a test by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found,” says Amy Ratner in Gluten-Free Living’s “FDA Responds to Gluten-Free Cheerios Recall” on
“General Mills had previously said it was routinely testing the oats, the oat flour and the finished cereal. However, Siemienas Monday said this testing was not done on the finished lots of cereal included in the recall. He said General Mills is now testing all finished product at the Lodi plant.”
“Since mid-September, the FDA has received 125 reports of adverse events from and about consumers who ate Cheerios labeled gluten-free, according to an FDA spokesperson. Most noted gastro-intestinal discomfort.”
“We recognize the importance of this issue to people with celiac disease, wheat allergy, and gluten sensitivity, and we will continue to provide updates and advice as needed,” the FDA said.”As with all recalls, the FDA will work to ensure the recall is effective and the underlying cause is identified and addressed.”
“But gluten-free consumers who have celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are increasingly wary of the gluten-free status of Cheerios. While an active group on social media has been suspicious of the company’s handling of oats from the beginning, those who had previously accepted the cereal as safe have been commenting on facebook and Twitter that they are now concerned, too.”
Jim Murphy, senior vice president and president of the cereal division, said the company had to acknowledge it had failed to meet its commitment to ensure its products were gluten free “for a time.” He said he was “embarrassed and truly sorry” to announce the recall.
Mike Siemienas, General Mills spokesman, said the company will have to work hard to regain the trust of the gluten-free community.
The company says the oat supply initially tested to be gluten free. Oats used in Cheerios products have come under scrutiny because General Mills mechanically processes them instead of using specialty gluten-free oats. Oats are gluten free, but they are highly likely to be cross-contaminated by wheat, barley or rye in the field, in transport, storage and milling. Specialty oat suppliers take precise steps to prevent this cross-contamination.
[See Unproven Technology Used to Produce ‘Gluten-Free’ Cheerios for the Canadian Celiac Association’s position statement on mechanical / optical sorting of regular oats.]
General Mills instead separates the gluten-containing grains from the oats at a cleaning facility it built in Minneapolis after 5 years of research into making mainstream Cheerios gluten free. Processed oat flour is then sent to several plants around the country to be made into Cheerios. Some of these plants also process gluten-containing products. The company says Cheerios lines are separated by distance and physical barriers.
General Mills had previously said it was routinely testing the oats, the oat flour and the finished cereal. However, Siemienas Monday said this testing was not done on the finished lots of cereal included in the recall. He said General Mills is now testing all finished product at the Lodi plant.
What is the real issue?
“Can you please tell this community how without ANY testing on finished product of the lots involved in the recall you had confidence that these 1.8 million boxes were gluten-free?”
“And can you please provide the Gluten Free Watchdog community with an honest and detailed description of your current testing methodology and protocol for finished product Cheerios?”
“Until you do, it will remain the position of Gluten Free Watchdog that individuals with gluten-related disorders should not eat gluten-free labeled Cheerios.”
What troubles you about this debacle?