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Found 9 results

  1. Celiac.com 11/03/2017 - Talk about finding needles in a haystack. Imagine, if you will, sifting through rail cars full of oats and plucking out nearly every stray grain of wheat, barley or rye so that the final product tests at under 20 ppm, instead of the original 200 ppm to 1,000 ppm. Quite a challenge, yes? It's a challenge General Mills take on every day as it produces Gluten Free Cheerios from raw oats into the final product. According to their website, General Mills ships 500,000 cases of Cheerios each week. To do this, General Mills uses a proprietary optical sorting process, for which it has filed a patent with the US Patent Office. That process sifts through those rail cars of oats, with stray gluten ranging from 200 ppm to 1,000 ppm, and "takes it down to less than 20" ppm, said Paul Wehling, principal scientist for General Mills. Mr. Wehling told audience members at the annual meeting of AACC International at Cereals 17 in San Diego on Oct. 9, that the General Mills sorting process achieves a "2- to 3-log reduction of the gluten." To verify their oat sorting results, General Mills uses enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) testing and visual inspection to spot and eliminate gluten-containing grains such as wheat. The company uses hand inspection in place of lateral flow testing, as they find that "hand inspection is much more efficient because we can look at quite a few more seeds," Mr. Wehling said. That process would seem to be validated by Laura K. Allred, regulatory and standards manager for the Gluten Intolerance Group, Auburn, Wash., which recommends companies use a combination of visual testing and ELISA testing. However, the General Mills process is not without critics. One of the more prominent voices in opposition to General Mills has been the Canadian Celiac Association (CCA). The CCA has made numerous statements questioning the process General Mills uses to create their Gluten-Free Cheerios, and other oat products. CCA statements, or statements attributed to the CCA include comments in an article published in October 26, 2017, in which Globalnews.ca writes "[CCA] expressed doubt in the company's mechanical sorting system and claim of 100 per cent removal of cross-contaminants." Candiangrocer.com reported in August 2016 that the CCA was, to paraphrase, "awaiting evidence showing the new line [of Gluten Free Cheerios] is 100% free of gluten." It is unclear what the CCA means by such terms as "100% gluten-free," "100 percent removal," and "100 percent safe for people with celiac disease." Is the CCA hinting that the standard for gluten-free products should be 0 ppm? Besides voicing fear and concerns, and citing alleged complaints by members, the CCA never actually provided any evidence that Cheerios failed to meet the US and Canadian standard of 20 ppm allowable gluten, and were, thus, not gluten-free. The CBC reported on August 31 2016, that the "Canadian Celiac Association is warning against gluten-free Cheerios products over concerns the cereal is not 100 per cent safe for people with celiac disease." Again, the CCA made this recommendation based not on independent product testing, or on any confirmed accounts of gluten-exposure in people with celiac disease who had consumed Cheerios, but on "fear" and "concerns" driven by anecdotal evidence. Moreover, they seemingly disregarded overwhelming anecdotal evidence provided by people with celiac disease who say they eat Cheerios safely. The CCA has yet to provide a satisfactory response for their warnings, or to provide any clarification of their position regarding the safety of products that test under 20 ppm gluten for people with celiac disease. The FDA recently announced that 99.5% of products tested came in under the 20 ppm standard set by the FDA for labeling a product "gluten-free." In fact, only one of 750 samples taken from 250 products tested above 20 ppm. That product was recalled and the manufacturer corrected the problem. There has been no indication the Cheerios tested outside the FDA's gluten-free standard. That means that even an ambitious sorting process like the one developed by General Mills seems to be working as designed. It means that consumers can trust the FDA, and American gluten-free labels, and that consumers of gluten-free foods can buy with confidence.
  2. Celiac.com 10/31/2017 - A press release by the Canadian Celiac Association announcing a label change for General Mills' Cheerios is drawing confusion and questions from numerous corners of the gluten-free community. The press release is also drawing pushback from General Mills, which called the CCA press release "inaccurate," and said it was "not based on facts." General Mills spokesman Mike Siemienas says that "the only thing the CCA got right is that General Mills is changing its label in Canada." Everything else, Siemienas, claimed, was based on opinion, not facts. Siemienas added that General Mills has made efforts to work with the CCA, but that the organization "had its opinions formed" in advance, and seemed unmoved by facts. Regarding Cheerios, a statement by General Mills reads: "Each serving of Cheerios products in Canada are gluten free, as defined by the current regulatory standard of containing less than 20 ppm of gluten. General Mills Canada has made the decision to voluntarily remove the gluten-free label from our Cheerios products in Canada until Health Canada and The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) publish a consistent testing protocol for products containing oats. At this time the product is not changing, just the label on the box. We look forward to labeling the Cheerios products in Canada as gluten free once consensus is reached on a consistent testing protocol for products containing oats." The full text of the original CCA press release appears below, but since this article was written: "The CCA retracts its statement of October 20, 2017 and replaces it with this statement due to errors in the original statement.": October 20, 2017 (Mississauga, ON) The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has made an announcement that the words "gluten-free" will be removed from all Cheerios package sold in Canada by January 1, 2018. The Canadian Celiac Association first objected to the claim in August 2016 and strongly recommended that people with celiac disease not consume the cereal, even though the box was labelled "gluten free". The announcement came in a letter addressed to a Canadian consumer who was one of many customer complaints to be filed against the products. "We are delighted to hear that the regulators have determined that the claim must be removed from the packages", said Melissa Secord, Executive Director of the Canadian Celiac Association. "Based on the advice of the members of our Professional Advisory Board, the experts of the Gluten-Free Certification Program, and other professionals working in the field, we believe that there is not adequate evidence to support the claim. When added to many reports from consumers with celiac disease reacting to eating the cereal, we believe this is the safe recommendation for Canadians." The CCA will follow up closely with the CFIA and Health Canada to continue to monitor this decision along with other products sold in Canada to ensure access to safe foods for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities. The CCA is currently working on a grant from Agriculture and Agrifood Canada to examine the scope of gluten contamination in oats grown in Canada, and to determine where the contamination occurs as the oats a processed (field, harvest, transport, processing). The project is scheduled to be completed in March 2018. Celiac disease is a medical condition in which the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged by a substance called gluten. This results in an inability of the body to absorb nutrients: protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, which are necessary for good health. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, triticale, barley. In the case of wheat, gliadin has been isolated as the toxic fraction. It is the gluten in the flour that helps bread and other baked goods bind and prevents crumbling. This feature has made gluten widely used in the production of many processed and packaged foods. The Canadian Celiac Association, the national voice for people who are adversely affected by gluten, is dedicated to improving diagnosis and quality of life.
  3. Celiac.com 08/17/2016 - Cereal-maker General Mills is looking to patent method and system for manufacturing gluten-free oats. The application for patent protection covers numerous mechanical separation processes on a variety of grains, including oat grains and gluten-containing grains, using, among other things, width grading steps, multiple length grading steps, aspirating steps and a potential de-bearding step. Federal labeling regulations require products labeled 'gluten-free' to have gluten levels below 20 ppm. The process allow the production of oat grains with gluten levels below 20 parts per million, and optimally at 10 ppm. The resulting oats are gluten-free oats and suitable for use in a variety of gluten-free oat food products, including cereal and granola products, according to the patent US 2016/0207048 A1, filed on July 21st 2016. Mechanical separation techniques, such as these covered by the patent application, have the potential to be highly efficient and economical. The patent does not mention more expensive optical systems. Oats are naturally gluten-free, but, according to the patent, "oats cultivated in North America, Europe and other parts of the world commonly are contaminated by gluten-containing grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale." Contamination can result from rotating grains on the same crop land, and from harvesting, transporting, storing and merchandising. General Mills experienced problems with wheat contamination of gluten-free products last year, when they were forced to recall an estimated 1.8 million boxes of gluten-free Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios at its Lodi, Calif., plant. The product was contaminated with gluten. However, the company has maintained that the gluten contamination was due to an employee processing error, not any defect in their grain sorting equipment covered under the patent protection. Stay tuned to find out if General Mills receives their patent, and if their process has a significant impact on the quality, availability and cost of gluten-free oats.
  4. Celiac.com 09/02/2015 - Cereal maker General Mills is pulling the plug on its Gluten Free Chex Oatmeal. A spokesperson for General Mills confirmed that the product has been discontinued due to low sales. The company says it will make its final shipments of the gluten-free oatmeal in October. This constitutes an ignoble end for a brand that made its official debut last year. Chex Gluten Free Oatmeal was available in original, apple cinnamon and maple brown sugar flavors, and made without artificial flavors, colors, preservatives or high fructose corn syrup. The decision to discontinue Gluten Free Chex Oatmeal comes amid controversy regarding General Mills methods of sorting oats for its new gluten-free Cheerios. What do you think? Are you sad? Or are there too many good gluten-free choices to worry? Share your thoughts below.
  5. 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. A 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.
  6. Celiac.com 03/28/2016 - An Oregon man who claims to have celiac disease filed another proposed class action suit against General Mills in federal court recently. The company recalled nearly 2 million boxes of the cereal last year after what they claimed was a mistake at a local packaging plant. That recall incident has spurred several lawsuits already, which were covered in two previous articles, General Mills Sued Over Recalled Gluten-free Cheerios, and General Mills Sued Again, This Time for Misleading Labels on Gluten-free Cheerios. In the latest suit, named plaintiff, Christopher Hamilton, of Marion County, Oregon, individually and for all others similarly situated, filed a class action lawsuit Feb. 29 in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon Eugene Division against General Mills Inc. and General Mills Sales Inc., alleging violations of the Oregon Unlawful Trade Practices Act and consumer protection statutes in several states. Hamilton's suit alleges that General Mills wrongly labels some of its Cheerios as "gluten free.” He claims he purchased a $15.98 twin pack of “gluten-free” original and honey nut-flavored varieties of Cheerios in late September from a Salem Costco that was later subject to recall. The complaint states that a test sample of the purportedly gluten-free Cheerios contained 43 parts per million of gluten, which exceeds the 20 parts per million federal limit for a food product to be labeled as gluten free. Source: Legalnewsline.com
  7. Celiac.com 02/02/2016 - General Mills seems to be having a hard time catching a break lately, especially when it comes to their new gluten-free options. After some minor good news that their new gluten-free versions of Cheerios breakfast cereal was driving a small increase in an otherwise falling cereal market, the company has found itself on the receiving end of several lawsuits. In the latest lawsuit, a Kentucky woman is suing the cereal producer over what she claims are misleading labels on their gluten-free products, including gluten-free Cheerios. In her class-action lawsuit filed Dec. 18 in the Eastern District of California, Jacklyn Haddix, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, alleges that General Mills, General Mills Sales, General Mills Operations, and Does 1-50, engaged in "unjust enrichment, breach of express warranty, negligence and violations of Kentucky and California consumer protection laws." The suit states that after General Mills began to advertise and distribute its gluten-free Cheerios products throughout the U.S., in September, the Food and Drug Administration received consumer reports of adverse reactions from people who had eaten gluten free-labeled Cheerios. On Oct. 5, after FDA tests of 36 Cheerios samples that certain samples contained gluten levels well above the mandated limit for products labeled gluten-free. General Mills subsequently recalled 1.8 million boxes of Cheerios. Two days later, the company revealed finished product testing had not been performed on the recalled Cheerios, according to the suit. Haddix and others in the suit seek "compensatory, exemplary, punitive, and statutory damages, plus return of purchase prices, interests, reimbursement, disgorgement, and attorney fees and costs" exceeding $5 million. Stay tuned for more developments on this and other gluten-free product lawsuits. Source: legalnewsline.com
  8. 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. The 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: Food Navigator-USA.com
  9. Celiac.com 12/16/2015 - Just a month after General Mills recalled nearly two million boxes of gluten-free Cheerios from store shelves and warehouses due to "inadvertent" gluten contamination, the company and its flagship brand Cheerios are facing yet another public relations challenge. General Mills is being sued for false advertising by a major consumer watchdog over its Cheerios Protein cereal, introduced in March, 2014, as a "healthy alternative" to both classic Cheerios and other breakfast cereals. According to an official complaint filed with the Northern California District Court by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), "General Mills falsely and misleadingly markets Cheerios Protein to children and adults as a high protein, healthful alternative to Cheerios." According to General Mills’ official marketing language, Cheerios Protein "offers the benefits that go along with starting the day with 11g of protein and the great taste of Cheerios that kids and parents already know and love." According to the CSPI, while Cheerios Protein does contain a tiny bit more protein than classic Cheerios, General Mills has nearly doubled the recommended serving size for Cheerios Protein, making its protein content seem much greater than it actually is. So, while the "recommended serving size" of original Cheerios is 28g, the recommended serving of Cheerios Protein is 55g. When you crunch the numbers, Cheerios Protein only has just 7/10 of a gram more protein than regular Cheerios, hardly a major source of protein, or a major improvement over regular Cheerios. In their complaint, CSPI is accusing General Mills of engaging in what amounts to marketing sleight-of-hand, to trick consumers into paying an average of 70 cents more per box than other brands of Cheerios, for a product that contains an insignificant amount of extra protein, but 17 times more sugar than classic Cheerios. Yes, even though they have about the same amount of protein by weight, a serving of original Cheerios contains just 1g of sugar, while a serving of Cheerios Protein will give you a whopping 17g of sugar; about the same as half a can of Coke. Basically, eating two bowls of original Cheerios will give you about the same amount of protein as Cheerios Protein, but with far less sugar, and at a lower cost. That's where the lawsuit comes in. Basically, CSPI is hoping to use the courts to pressure General Mills to remove or revise their marketing cliams, which CSPI says, are little more than smoke and mirrors. Stay tuned for the latest developments on this and related stories. Read more at Inquisitr.com
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