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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    General Mills Sued Over Recalled Gluten-free Cheerios

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Photo: CC--Bryce Mohan

    Celiac.com 12/09/2015 - Less than a month after General Mills announced a recall of nearly two million boxes of gluten-free Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios, the company is facing a class action lawsuit alleging it violated several consumer protection laws, and put consumers at risk.

    Photo: CC--Bryce MohanThe complaint, filed in the eastern district of California on October 30 by plaintiffs Keri van Lengen and Deborah Nava against General Mills and Roxanne Ornelas (manufacturing manager at Gen Mill's Lodi plant), accuses General Mills of selling misbranded products; in this case, cereals advertised as gluten-free which actually contained gluten.

    It adds: "Plaintiffs and Class Members have all suffered and will continue to suffer harm and damages as a result of Defendants' unlawful and wrongful conduct."

    For the company's part, it states in a blog post published on October 5, by Jim Murphy, senior vice president and president of the Cereal division at General Mills, that:

    "Our Lodi production facility lost rail service for a time and our gluten-free oat flour was being off-loaded from rail cars to trucks for delivery to our facility on the dates in question. In an isolated incident involving purely human error, wheat flour was inadvertently introduced into our gluten-free oat flour system at Lodi. That error resulted in an undeclared allergen – wheat – being present in products labeled as gluten free at levels above the FDA gluten-free standard."

    Murphy went on to reassure consumers that the company's oat supply was safe, and that their gluten-free flours are pure.

    The post goes on to assure consumers that the company "tested our oat supply on these dates – and the oat supply tested as gluten free. We also tested the specific oat flour being used at Lodi – and our oat flour supply also tested as gluten free on the dates in question."

    The post closes by noting that General Mills is testing all finished product…[and has] instituted additional flour handling protocols at all facilities to ensure this will not happen again.

    Stay tuned for new developments or related news on gluten-free products from Cheerios or General Mills.

    Source:


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    I think litigation when companies take responsibility is unproductive. It will make companies less likely to try to bring new gluten free products safely to market.

    I totally agree with Kay. Litigation will only make these companies less likely to venture into gluten-free land. Thanks for the article. And I'm sure glad Coors will be going gluten-free soon but it will probably take a LONG time for the product to get to Georgia.

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    I think litigation when companies take responsibility is unproductive. It will make companies less likely to try to bring new gluten free products safely to market.

    I agree 100%

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    Guest Wendellyn Plummer

    Posted

    Not only are Manufacturers responsible, so are Restaurant owners. Many times I have been told that the food I was getting gluten-free and then have been sick for days because the food wasn't prepared properly. Most people think it is a dietary choice not a Medical necessity. Honestly, it shouldn't matter.

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    We need to use our buying power and the law to stop these types of things occurring with our store-bought foods these days. I would really like to see a non-profit that worked with people to educate them how to grow their own organic gardens, raise their own foods (if possible) and why it is now so important.

     

    This also falls right in line with GMOs and the damage they are going to cause to us and probably our environment later. I have Celiac's and am infuriated they would do this. Thank God I never have eaten this brand or brands.

     

    I feel totally violated on every level that we would be encouraged to buy these things without being informed so we would have the choice to buy or not to buy. But, then they wouldn't have as many sales and dollars in their pocket.

     

    We have to work together as Americans to find a way to break up the corporations and move back into flourishing small businesses where the dollars are distributed rather than a few greedy people owning the whole lot. We do that in our ability to grow our own and use our buying power no matter how small it is this days.

     

    If no one is buying they lose their power.

    Cynthia, you seem to be one of those people who likes to take any issue and blow it up into a rant about how everything is wrong in the world today. I own a small business, suffer from celiac and ate the Cheerios but I also realize that human error is just not something that can be completely eliminated. The company took responsibility and acted appropriately. I agree with the other posts, if we punish them for coming forward and disclosing the problem then companies will just not want to produce gluten free items because the risk of being sued is so high. Meanwhile, we will be back to eating the limited, sub-par selection of gluten free items we (enjoyed) years ago. I don't know about you, but I really love the fact that I can have such things as Cheerio's, cake, delicious pasta and all of the other wonderful items that have been introduced over the last few years.

     

    Just think of how you would feel if somebody sued you every time you made a mistake.

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    I think litigation when companies take responsibility is unproductive. It will make companies less likely to try to bring new gluten free products safely to market.

    Absolutely. Give GM a break during their transition. I am speaking as one who got sick from accidentally buying a box of whole grain cheerios that did not say "gluten free." Uggg. We lost Chex oatmeal. Let's not lose Cheerios again...

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    My concern is that if wheat flour contaminated the line, how will they ever make sure the equipment is completely clean again? I doubt they would disassemble all of it and clean it sufficiently. No more cheerios for us (not that I was eating them, but my husband was - his sensitivity is not nearly as bad as mine)

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    I HATE that these people keep bringing lawsuits. I'm finding it harder and harder to find information about gluten from drug companies, and the food companies will be next. They won't want to say "gluten free" to avoid being sued. I know anytime I eat out at a restaurant, or eat a ready-made food like cereals, that it poses a risk to my health. If I get sick, I'm just more careful next time. I get cross-contaminated in my own kitchen (not often, but it happens) and I'm super careful; of COURSE it's going to happen on a corporate level. This is a responsible company getting the word out and taking action to protect their consumers. They should be applauded, not sued. And yes, I'm a very sensitive celiac.

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    I agree with Kay and Charlene. I often question the real motives behind lawsuits - I think it's often the lawyers see an opportunity and go looking for a plaintiff to make it fly. The fact is, the plaintiffs, however many there are, will share in 30% of the pot, getting nothing meaningful individually, but the law firm will take 70%, walking away with millions. Today's society is way to quick to sue. Lawyers advertise on every billboard and television channel, fishing for the next opportunity. "Did you slip and fall?... Call 1-800-...". Get over it, and move on. (...and yes, I have celiac disease, but I have better things to do with my time than get involved in suing GM for my $100 share of the pot.)

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    We need to use our buying power and the law to stop these types of things occurring with our store-bought foods these days. I would really like to see a non-profit that worked with people to educate them how to grow their own organic gardens, raise their own foods (if possible) and why it is now so important.

     

    This also falls right in line with GMOs and the damage they are going to cause to us and probably our environment later. I have Celiac's and am infuriated they would do this. Thank God I never have eaten this brand or brands.

     

    I feel totally violated on every level that we would be encouraged to buy these things without being informed so we would have the choice to buy or not to buy. But, then they wouldn't have as many sales and dollars in their pocket.

     

    We have to work together as Americans to find a way to break up the corporations and move back into flourishing small businesses where the dollars are distributed rather than a few greedy people owning the whole lot. We do that in our ability to grow our own and use our buying power no matter how small it is this days.

     

    If no one is buying they lose their power.

    This was an error - not an intentional misbranding of product. Mistakes happen and the company has taken responsibility and put new measures in place to prevent something like this in the future. Nothing is perfect. I agree with other posters that lawsuits of this nature will only hinder the willingness of companies to create of new gluten-free products in the future. Everyone growing their own organic gardens is not feasible in the real world.

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    Cynthia is right about "using our buying power" when it comes to how and where we get our food. The real truth is that the food/agricultural companies are ruining our food. Monsanto is the biggest, most corrupt of all, including general mills. Monsanto controls over 90% of the world's seeds, yes they control what kind of seeds farmers plant in the ground. AND, if you think GMO is okay, then please understand a simple truth, "if insects and animals won't eat it, why would I??" And lastly, I wish the whole world knew that those "chem trails" in the sky are a result of Monsanto putting barium and aluminum into the atmosphere, in an effort to control the environment. What they do not realize is that they are what is killing all the bees. You never hear about that in the mainstream media outlets, but my friends, please know this "IF THE BEES GO, ALL PLANT AND ANIMAL/HUMANS WILL DIE OFF". Do you research, get some heirloom seeds and grow your own!!

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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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