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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    General Mills Draws Fire for Gluten-free Manufacturing Choices

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Image: CC--theimpulsivebuy

    Celiac.com 09/07/2015 - Cereal maker General Mills is facing criticism from some people with celiac disease who say its gluten-free manufacturing practices are unsafe, unreliable, and leave them at risk for adverse gluten reactions.

    Image: CC--theimpulsivebuyA number of celiac disease patients and others with gluten sensitivities are questioning the company's practice of removing wheat, rye and barley from standard oats, rather than sourcing actual gluten-free oats. General Mills' special method for sorting grains allegedly removes any wheat, barley and rye from the whole oats, before they are made into oat flour.

    A group called "Gluten Free Watchdog" has engaged General Mills regarding cross-contamination possibilities during the grain sorting and manufacturing process. The process used by General Mills to sort its oats for the gluten-free Original, Multi-Grain, Apple Cinnamon, Honey Nut and Frosted Cheerios is described in an official blog post.

    Gluten Free Watchdog's concerns include the reliability of testing analysis. General Mills currently uses a sampling method to test the cereal and check that gluten is 20 parts per million (ppm) or less, but Gluten Free Watchdog claims this method can result in uneven results, and that some batches of cereal may actually contain more than the allowed 20 ppm of gluten, although they haven't offered any solid examples that support their theory.

    To its credit, General Mills seems to be honestly engaged in the discussion, and has signaled an openness to sourcing pure gluten-free oats, which would address the concerns of groups like Gluten Free Watchdog.

    What do you think? Should General Mills be using gluten-free oats for their gluten-free products? Is it okay if they use regular oats and special sorting equipment to ensure the final oats are under 20 ppm, as required by law? Share your thoughts below.


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    We all know that celiacs are different and take on different risks. Many celiacs cheat eating gluten and if you're a celiac trusting this product regularly, then eat it and report back after multiple occasions after getting re-tested by your doctor. The facts are simple, General Mills does not conduct a proper celiac safe consistent protocol. They've been somewhat transparent to show us this. So how can a celiac honestly believe this, besides having an emotional attachment to the brand and food from their childhoods? Not to mention General Mill supports GMO and Monsanto another issue that is related indirectly to a trust gluten free lifestyle... why would you eat gluten free low quality food?

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    As long as General Mills is being honest (and I think they are) about their process, it is up to each celiac to decide for themselves if he or she should try gluten-free cherrios. My understanding is that there aren't enough gluten-free oats available and if there were I am sure that the cost would go up. I eat this Cherrios all the time and don't seem to have a problem.

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    They have been providing us with gluten free cereal for quite awhile. I eat all the Chex and I even make my own breading from the Rice Chex. Here's a company trying to do something that helps celiacs by offering choices and reasonable pricing. Let's all get on them about how they are doing it - then they can back off because they really don't need to provide gluten-free, do they ??

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    Our family (with both "celiacs" and non-celiac gluten-sensitive types) tends to be super-sensitive to gluten, but we'been thrilled to have Cheerios back in our diet. We've eaten each type and had no problems. Very excited to have a few more choices in the morning, and we really appreciate all GM's efforts to do this roll out safely!

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    You couldn't pay me to eat it. There are plenty of really good Organic Gluten Free cereals out there that you can trust. I wouldn't purchase from any company that also wants to hide GMO's from you too.

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    We all know that celiacs are different and take on different risks. Many celiacs cheat eating gluten and if you're a celiac trusting this product regularly, then eat it and report back after multiple occasions after getting re-tested by your doctor. The facts are simple, General Mills does not conduct a proper celiac safe consistent protocol. They've been somewhat transparent to show us this. So how can a celiac honestly believe this, besides having an emotional attachment to the brand and food from their childhoods? Not to mention General Mill supports GMO and Monsanto another issue that is related indirectly to a trust gluten free lifestyle... why would you eat gluten free low quality food?

     

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    When I went to buy the new cereal my store still had the "old" still in stock. This could have happened to those with a reaction?

    I was wondering about that! I still haven't seen the gluten-free products in Los Angeles yet....I can't wait to try them. I have never had an issue with oats, so I'm hoping this can be my new go-to cereal. I really, really hope people aren't assuming that the product is gluten-free without buying specifically the boxes that are labeled gluten-free! But hey, we all know the Darwin Effect exists....

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    I was so excited to hear that I would be able to eat honey nut and apple cinnamon cheerios again - they were my favorite for a long time. But after hearing more about their "removal process" I'm going to hold out until they develop a more reliable way to make Cheerios gluten free. All it takes is one missed grain to make someone sick. C'mon GM, stop dragging your feet and get some certified gluten-free oats. This "removal" process sounds like the beers who claim to be gluten free by fermentation just so they can jump on the band wagon and cash in on the fad dieters. If you are serious, get certified. Then I will trust you.

     

    Sincerely,

     

    A lifelong Celiac

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    I have Celiac disease, and I was SO EXCITED, I hadn't had Cheerios in over 10 years. I ate the frosted Cheerios... A BIG bowl of course! With in 15 minutes I was extremely sick! My stomach was swollen, I looked like I was 8 months pregnant and had severe pain cramping for days. Weeks later, I'm still dealing with muscle and nerve pain. If you have celiac disease, please use extreme caution if you decide to eat Cheerios! I hope General Mills will reconsider where they get their oats, and how they process them!! If not, please take gluten free off the label! Some boxes may be in the safe range, but apparently not every box is safe!

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    It's a disgrace, I got sick from one bowl of Cheerios plain! You think a huge company like GM would use gluten free oats and celiac standards , I think gluten will vary box to box, my heart breaks for the young kids that might get sick! They just want to be healthy kids and enjoy them without worries!!

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    I am a celiac and get sick for a month when glutened. I tried the gluten-free regular Cheerios before I read this article and and glad to say that I am still going strong. The box is half empty and on my next shopping trip plan to buy more. I am able to eat oats with out any problems, fortunately, cause I also have to eat gluten-free matzoh on Passover. But knowing that the oats may be contaminated does concern me. I hope they do go with pure oats cause I would hate to loose a month of my life eating my favorite cereal.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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