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Celiac.com 04/24/2017 - The fallout continues from General Mills' recall of nearly 2 million boxes of Gluten Free Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios in 2015, which occurred after workers at a California plant accidentally loaded gluten-free oat flour into trucks that had been holding wheat flour, which contains gluten, and which then contaminated batches of "gluten-free" cereal produced with the grain from those trucks. In comments to the U.S. Ninth Circuit court, plaintiffs representing a proposed class of consumers claimed that a lower court had erred in dismissing their lawsuit on the grounds that the company's recall program made the claims baseless. They asked that the court allow their lawsuit against General Mills to continue. The suit is based on claims that the supposedly gluten-free Cheerios that had been made with the wrong flour, and that the cereal had sickened consumers. Lead plaintiff Christopher Hamilton told the panel that a refund program alone does not moot a claim for damages, as courts have held that, while refund programs do moot restitution claims, they do not moot claims for damages and injunctive relief, such as Hamilton's. "Indeed, in a case based on the exact facts present here, a court in California held that the Cheerios recall program did not moot a consumer's damages claim because the defendants did not satisfy the plaintiff's claims for statutory damages and injunctive relief," said Hamilton. Hamilton, who has celiac disease, brought his suit in March 2016 after buying the supposedly "gluten-free," wheat-contaminated Cheerios. One sample revealed 43 parts per million of gluten, more than twice the legal ceiling for the "gluten-free" label, Hamilton said in his complaint. Still, to the layperson, Hamilton's request for damages and injunctive relief invites questions. First, since the company issued a full product recall, what type of injunctive relief would they be seeking? Second, regarding damages, exactly what type of monetary damages would be claimed? Did these plaintiffs incur medical expenses, missed work or other costs? That is not made clear in these filings. When U.S. District Judge Michael McShane dismissed the original suit in July, he did so based on the fact that General Mills did issue a full product recall. In his statements on the matter, the judge wrote: "Rather than mitigate his damages by accepting General Mills' recall/refund offer, Hamilton is suing General Mills for false labeling, marketing and promotion of the product. Hamilton paints a discreet [sic] manufacturing mishap as a grand scheme of deceptive advertising, marketing and labeling." Judge McShane added, "I find this to be creative at best." But Hamilton says that he should be permitted to amend his complaint to include claims that the recall was delayed, and that the company was aware of complaints from sick consumers as early as July 2015. Hamilton also wishes to include allegations that General Mills deliberately ignored warnings from a dietitian that General Mills gluten-free testing was inferior. The case is Christopher Hamilton v. General Mills Inc. et al., case number 16-36004, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Read more at Law360.com.
Celiac.com 02/26/2016 - Consumer complaints to the FDA fueled a class action lawsuit claiming that cereal maker General Mills mislabeled gluten contaminated Cheerios as "gluten-free." The recent suit was brought by a Kentucky woman, who alleges that she purchased two boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios labeled as gluten-free, but which actually contained gluten levels more than two times higher than allowed under FDA standards. The consumer complaints led to FDA testing on gluten-free Cheerios. The FDA tested 36 samples of gluten-free Cheerios taken from different manufacturing facilities and lots. The tests found that some "Gluten Free" Cheerios samples contained as much as 43 ppm gluten. Current FDA rules forbid the use of the statement "gluten-free" on any food product with gluten levels above 20 parts per million. General Mills issued a recall on Oct. 5., and the suit was filed in late 2015 in a California federal court, and charges violations of California and Kentucky consumer protection laws. The suit alleges that supposedly gluten-free oats were cross contaminated with ordinary wheat at one of General Mills' processing facilities. Stay tuned for more news on this and other developments on gluten-free labeling and celiac disability claims. Read more at Legalnewsline.com.
Celiac.com 01/16/2015 - Most people with celiac disease suffer from classic symptoms like weight-loss and diarrhea before diagnosis, right? Wrong. In fact, the most common medical issues for people with celiac disease might really surprise you. A team of researchers who recently looked at data on 770 celiac patients admitted to S. Orsola-Malpighi Hospital from January 1998 to December 2012, found that even though 80% of people with celiac disease have symptoms other than diarrhea, only 1 in 3 people with celiac disease shows classical malabsorption symptoms. Notably, two out of three people with celiac disease show non-classical symptoms. The majority of people have non-gastrointestinal symptoms. In fact, the top ten medical complaints of people with celiac disease are: Osteopenia/Osteoporosis—a full 52% of patients with celiac disease suffer from osteopenia/osteoporosis. Anemia—about one in three celiacs (34%) suffer from anemia. Cryptogenic hypertransaminasemia—nearly one-third (29%) of people with celiac disease, have what is called cryptogenic hypertransaminasemia. Diarrhea is, in fact, a common gastrointestinal symptom of celiac disease, but believe it or not, only 27% of people with symptomatic celiac disease experienced diarrhea. Bloating—20% of celiacs complained of bloating prior to diagnosis. Aphthous stomatitis—18% of people with symptomatic celiac disease had canker sores as one of their symptoms. Alternating bowel habit—15% of celiacs with symptoms have alternating bowel habit Constipation—13% of celiacs have constipation as a symptom. Gastroesophageal reflux disease—About 12% of people with celiac disease suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease. Recurrent miscarriages—just over one in ten (12%) people with celiac disease experience recurrent miscarriages
More and more people with celiac disease present atypical symptoms that are clinically indistinguishable from other gastrointestinal disorders. A new study shows that upwards of 4% of people with generalized gastrointestinal complaints show elevated celiac disease antibodies when screened. A team of researchers recently set out to assess rates of celiac disease in patients with gastrointestinal symptoms, and to catalog the common manifestations of atypical expressions of celiac disease. The research team was made up of Mohammad Rostami Nejad, Kamran Rostami, Mohamad Amin Pourhoseingholi, Ehsan Nazemalhosseini Mojarad, Manijeh Habibi, Hossein Dabiri, and Mohammad Reza Zali. The team designed and executed a cross sectional study that included 5,176 individuals chosen randomly from self-referred patients within a primary care setting in Tehran province from 2006-2007. In all, 670 of the 5176, or 13% of patients self-referred to a general practitioner suffered from gastrointestinal complaints. All 670 subjects with gastrointestinal symptoms underwent celiac blood tests, including total immunoglobulin A (IgA) and anti-tissue transglutaminase (tTG) antibodies. Individuals showing IgA deficiency underwent screening for IgG tTG. Of the 670 investigated for gastrointestinal complaints, a total of 22 patients, 17 women and 5 men, showed positive anti-tTG results (95% CI: 1.70-4.30). Another 8/670 showed IgA deficiency, with 3 of those 8 subjects showing positive IgG tTG. Dyspepsia (indigestion) was the chief complaint in 25 patients withpositive blood tests and cases that were analogous to the rest of thesubjects. In all, 3.3% of serologically screened samples excluding IgA-deficient showed celiac disease antibodies, compared to 3.7% of those IgA-deficient subjects with positive tTG-IgG. Generalized gastrointestinal complaints are a common indication of atypical celiac disease. This study points to high rates of celiac disease antibodies among patients with generalized gastrointestinal symptoms (3.7%). Clinicians and patients will benefit from greater vigilance regarding atypical presentation of celiac disease and its association with generalized gastrointestinal symptoms. Source: Journal of Gastrointestinal Liver Disease - September 2009 Vol.18 No 3, 285-291