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

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Are Cheerios really "Not safe for celiacs?" Or is General Mills getting a bad rap? 

A recent story by Buzzfeed ignited confusion over whether Cheerios and other General Mills cereals are actually gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease.


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NOPE, this was the last update from GFWD on the matter of oats and general mills.

"

Dear Gluten Free Watchdog community,

There are a few updates on oats to share with you…

Glanbia Gluten-Free Oats: Another Source of Purity Protocol Oats: Glanbia Agribusiness is a purchaser and processor of grain in Ireland. They have recently begun to sell their OatPure™ gluten-free oats to manufacturers in both North America and Europe, through their sister company, Glanbia Nutritionals. According to Glanbia, their OatPure™ oats are guaranteed to contain a level of gluten below 10 ppm. Also according to Glanbia, their oats have been licensed by Coeliac UK, the Coeliac Society of Ireland, and the Spanish Federation of Coeliac Associations (FACE) to carry the crossed grain symbol. Gluten Free Watchdog has had an extensive discussion with Glanbia. Based on the information provided to us, we have added OatPure™ gluten-free oats to our listing of suppliers of purity protocol oats. Please note however, that Glanbia does not sell directly to consumers. To read more about Glanbia gluten-free oats see https://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/news/glanbia-gluten-free-oats-another-source-of-purity-protocol-oats/

PepsiCo/Quaker publishes a third paper on wheat/barley/rye contamination in oats: (Chen Y, et al. A stepwise, ‘test-all-positives’ methodology to assess gluten-kernel contamination at the serving-size level in gluten-free (gluten-free) oat production. Food Chemistry 2018;240:391-395). The article is open access and is available free of charge at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814617313067.

The abstract reads as follows:

“A step-wise, ‘test-all-positive-gluten’ analytical methodology has been developed and verified to assess kernel-based gluten contamination (i.e., wheat, barley and rye kernels) during gluten-free (gluten-free) oat production. It targets gluten-free claim compliance at the serving-size level (of a pouch or approximately 40–50 g). Oat groats are collected from gluten-free oat production following a robust attribute-based sampling plan then split into 75-g subsamples, and ground. R-Biopharm R5 sandwich ELISA R7001 is used for analysis of all the first15-g portions of the ground sample. A >20-ppm result disqualifies the production lot, while a >5 to <20-ppm result triggers complete analysis of the remaining 60-g of ground sample, analyzed in 15-g portions. If all five 15-g test results are <20 ppm, and their average is <10.67 ppm (since a 20-ppm contaminant in 40 g of oats would dilute to 10.67 ppm in 75-g), the lot is passed.”

Gluten Free Watchdog calls on ALL suppliers and manufacturers of gluten-free oats, whether purity protocol or mechanically/optically sorted, and their certifying bodies to reevaluate their testing methodology and requirements for certification, respectively.

General Mills gluten-free Cheerios and gluten-free Lucky Charms: Gluten Free Watchdog has received a number of inquiries about Cheerios and whether General Mills has made any changes to their testing protocol. General Mills confirmed yesterday (August 22) that there are no updates to report. We’ve also received questions about Lucky Charms and whether the same testing protocol is followed. General Mills also confirmed yesterday that the same testing protocol is followed for Cheerios and Lucky Charms.

Gluten Free Watchdog recommends that individuals with celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders not eat gluten-free Cheerios. This position will remain in effect until we are notified by General Mills that they are testing individual boxes of Cheerios and not relying on a "lot mean" to determine whether final product Cheerios contain less than 20 ppm gluten (all extractions from all boxes should test below 20 ppm gluten).

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Kind regards,

Tricia Thompson, MS, RD

Founder, Gluten Free Watchdog, LLC

"

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How many people actually go in to report adverse reactions to food products?  Personally, I would hate to slander a company when I have no real data to back it up (I do not have a lab at home to test for gluten). ?  I typically just keep my mouth shut and avoid the product in the future as I am not willing to risk eating it again.     I think reactions to mechanically sorted oats could be well under reported.   So, this article boils down to a personal opinion by the author or hearsay and not actual science (maybe even damage control by General Mills).  

The millions of boxes as a defense for its safety for celiacs?    Cherrios are eaten by a huge population (at a miminum just about every single non-celiac toddler).  We know for a scientific fact, that about 1% of the population has celiac disease and 80% of those people are walking around UNDIAGNOSED.  I think the author failed to mention this.  If you do not know you have celiac disease and you are consuming a variety of  products containing gluten, why would you bother to report Cherrios as a reason for your latest bout of GI issues?  So, the majority of those people consuming those millions of cherrios boxes  might never report an adverse reaction.  (Maybe a piece of metal or an insect found in the box, but that is another story).  

I will stick to the Gluten Free Watchdog's advice.  Why?  She does not accept ANY corporate sponsorship.  She is not worried about any corporate financial support.  It CAN be "all about the money".  

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58 minutes ago, cyclinglady said:

How many people actually go in to report adverse reactions to food products?  Personally, I would hate to slander a company when I have no real data to back it up (I do not have a lab at home to test for gluten). ?  I typically just keep my mouth shut and avoid the product in the future as I am not willing to risk eating it again.     I think reactions to mechanically sorted oats could be well under reported.   So, this article boils down to a personal opinion by the author or hearsay and not actual science (maybe even damage control by General Mills).  

The millions of boxes as a defense for its safety for celiacs?    Cherrios are eaten by a huge population (at a miminum just about every single non-celiac toddler).  We know for a scientific fact, that about 1% of the population has celiac disease and 80% of those people are walking around UNDIAGNOSED.  I think the author failed to mention this.  If you do not know you have celiac disease and you are consuming a variety of  products containing gluten, why would you bother to report Cherrios as a reason for your latest bout of GI issues?  So, the majority of those people consuming those millions of cherrios boxes  might never report an adverse reaction.  (Maybe a piece of metal or an insect found in the box, but that is another story).  

I will stick to the Gluten Free Watchdog's advice.  Why?  She does not accept ANY corporate sponsorship.  She is not worried about any corporate financial support.  It CAN be "all about the money".  

Excellent points.

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We have a Nema tester at home and after my wife got sick twice from eating them we tested two different boxes and both came up positive for gluten. The Canadian's have made them remove the gluten-free label from their box.

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