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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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    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.

    Don't worry no one will pay you to eat the cereal. And I have not found one Organic gluten-free cereals that I like even remotely. Yuck. I have tried too many to count. Glutino's is the worst for cereal. Then it goes downhill from there but glad someone likes them.

     

    General Mills is a brand I trust. I eat the Chex cereals all the time. I think they will get with the program and change they way they do the oats as well has hiding the GMO's if that is ur issue. Gook Luck.

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    I am going to try the new Cheerios, because my reactions aren't too violent, thank goodness. But when I saw their commercials explaining how they arrived at the new product, I did think something was a little 'off' about how they went about removing the offending gluten containing items from their cereals. I had a strong feeling there was going to be some sort of response to it, especially from those members of the gluten free community who have particularly violent reactions to even microscopic amounts of gluten.

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    I enjoyed two bowls of the Honey Nut Cheerios on two occasions for the first time in three years after being diagnosed as celiac. No problems but I ate them in moderation. I checked three local stores and each had the gluten-free and traditional products interspersed and I almost picked up the wrong box. For what it is worth, I had my annual antibody test less than 72 hours after my second bowl and my levels were non-detected when they were previously through the roof before diagnosis. I commend them for going the extra steps.

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    Love the new gluten-free Cheerios. I have celiac and am very careful of cross contamination because of issues it causes. I have not had any with Cheerios. I am glad they are open to the discussions and hope the continue to make more gluten-free cereals for us. This is not a one size fits all disease. So everyone is different. Try it, see how it goes for you. If it works, fabulous, you have a new food option. If not, move on. Thanks General Mills.

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    I read a very in depth article in the magazine Gluten Free Living last month on the facility built specifically for their Cheerios (entirely dedicated gluten free building) by General Mills specifically for taking the gluten out of the oats. General Mills said if they used certified gluten free oats they would buy up the entire gluten free oat market. When they bring fresh oats to this building it starts at the top of the building and by the time the oats reach the bottom it is gluten free.

     

    Furthermore, the article stated that no chemicals were used to extract the gluten!

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    As long as they are honest about what that they are doing, it's up to the individual to make the choice. Sourcing pure gluten-free oats will take time because they will probably have to contract with farmers to clear the fields of any wheat growing wild and building new silos. Transportation will have to be perfectly clean as well.

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    As long as they are honest about what that they are doing, it's up to the individual to make the choice. Sourcing pure gluten-free oats will take time because they will probably have to contract with farmers to clear the fields of any wheat growing wild and building new silos. Transportation will have to be perfectly clean as well.

    And the cost? Again, if anyone can point me to any tests done that show that gluten-free labelled cereals by General Mills are testing over the 20ppm limit, please post this here.

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    I'm a very sensitive celiac, that said, I wish every country would adopt Australia's attitude. No gluten means no gluten. Not 20 ppm is ok. My doctor says I'm the lucky one because I know when I've been glutened (and it isn't any fun for months!!!). How do all of you eating this cereal know that you're not damaging your intestines and other parts of your body? I am appreciative of companies that try, but if a product is not made with known gluten free ingredients, in a gluten free facility, my reply is no thank you! My good health and well being is worth more to me than eating any food out in the market.

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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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