Celiac.com on Cheerios and Gluten-free

I’m going to do something a little different today.  As I develop my business, Country Kitchen Center, I continue to learn more and more about the gluten-free world.  I want to share some information that shows how important it is to gather your facts and check them out carefully.    I’m reprinting an article by  www.Celiac.com  on whether Cheerios are contaminated in the production process.  I giving you the “Reader’s Digest” version.  Take note: you need to trust your own judgement and avoid any food you think makes you sick.  It’s really good GF food for thought.  Please share your thoughts and comments.
Andrea, countrykitchenchaos.com and countrykitchencenter.com

Are Cheerios Really “Not Safe For Celiacs?” Or is General Mills Getting a Bad Rap?

Journal of Gluten Sensitivity Autumn 2017 Issue


Image: CC–m01229

Celiac.com 09/01/2017 –

There are a number of folks in the gluten-free community who complain that General Mills is making people sick by selling Cheerios that they know to be contaminated with gluten due to a faulty sorting process. Because General Mills uses a flawed sorting process, the story goes, their boxes of Cheerios are subject to gluten “hot spots,” which is making some gluten-sensitive folks sick, thus the complaints.

 

It’s important to realize that General Mills produces huge numbers of Cheerios each week. How many exactly? Well, according to their website, General Mills ships 500,000 cases of Cheerios each week. At about 12 boxes per case, that’s about 6 million boxes each week, or 24 million boxes each month.

We know that the FDA received a number of consumer complaints in 2015, when a mix-up at a Cheerios plant in California led to mass gluten contamination, and eventually to a full recall of 1.8 million boxes by General Mills.

During that three month period, after the gluten contamination but prior to the recall, when many consumers were eating Cheerios made with wheat flour, the FDA says it received 136 complaints about adverse reactions to the product. That’s a complaint rate of about one complaint per 529,411 total boxes, and about one complaint for every 5,000 people with celiac disease; if each person with celiac ate 1 box, and the complaints came only from people with celiac disease. (Obviously this is simplified assumption for discussion purposes).

Since the beginning of 2016, the FDA has received 46 reports of people with celiac disease or sensitivity to gluten or wheat linking their illness to General Mills cereals, including Cheerios and Lucky Charms.

Also, General Mills uses its optically sorted gluten-free oats for other products. The FDA is certainly taking all of this into account. When they get complaints, they look at large amounts of data to help them put things into perspective. Has the FDA seen corresponding numbers of complaints for different General Mills products made from the same oat sorting process? It doesn’t seem so.

Celiac.com has covered the gluten-free Cheerios story from the beginning, and will continue to do so. We stand on the side of science, and accurate information.

Beyond the obvious gluten-contamination that led to the recall, we have been skeptical of claims that General Mills’ sorting process is flawed, and that their products, including Cheerios are routinely contaminated with gluten.

If this were true, we think the numbers would be very different, and that the pattern of official complaints would reflect that reality. We also feel that General Mills would be facing down lawsuits from hungry trial lawyers looking to put a big trophy on the wall.

We have simply not seen any good evidence that supports claims that Cheerios and other General Mills products are contaminated with gluten “hotspots” that cause reactions in people with celiac disease. We have also not seen evidence that rules out adverse oat reactions as the cause of many of these claims.

If someone out there has different numbers, or better information, we are all ears. However, until we see convincing evidence to the contrary, Celiac.com regards Cheerios and other General Mills products as safe for people with celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity. We do offer the caveat that people should trust their own judgement and avoid any food they think makes them sick.

Stay tuned for more on this and other stories on gluten-free cereals and other products.

Read more at BuzzFeed.com and GeneralMills.com.

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