More On Our Cheerios Position

By CCA National

gluten-free-cheeriosThe CCA recently celebrated that the “gluten-free” Cheerios would no longer be labelled as such. This voluntary decision followed complaints from the CCA to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. To be clear, the problem we had was that we could not determine if their testing protocol was adequate to confirm whether the cereal is safe for people with celiac disease. The concern is with both testing protocols and sampling protocols (choosing the oats to test).

Testing works great when a contaminant is spread evenly through the product. When you make a cup of tea, the tea is infused to the same concentration through the whole teapot. You can take a sample from anywhere and get a reliable measure of the concentration of tea. This also works with a batter where all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

Wheat and barley are not homogeneously (evenly) spread throughout the oats, though. The contamination is heterogeneous (spotty).

Suppose I have two cups of sugar and I add 10 grains of salt into one spot in the bowl. I ask you to decide if there is any salt in the sugar. That might seem like an extreme example, but it is not that far off the situation with cleaned oats.

If you just randomly pick a spot to sample, you might or might not find the salt depending on where you happen to take your sample from. You might hit the hot spot, you might miss. If you take more samples, you are more likely to find the salt. If you take bigger samples, you are more likely to find the salt. You can’t test the whole bowl, though, because the test destroys the sample.

The concern with General Mills is that they have not shared their sampling strategy or the results so it is almost impossible to figure out how big risk is.

Another concern is that there are conditions a company can put on farmers to reduce the amount of contamination in their oats e.g. don’t grow oats the year after wheat. We don’t know what General Mills is doing on this account.

Finally, since cleaned oats started to be used, there have been some significant concerns raised about testing. Some test protocols have increased the recommended sample size to get better results. The AOAC, the scientific organization that approves tests, has created a working group on testing cleaned oats to review the entire protocol that is currently working on the issue.

The CCA is two years through a set of projects funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada with the goal of determining the amount of contamination in a variety of crops, including oats. The goal is to determine how large the problem is and where most contamination happens (seed planting, in the field, during harvest, during milling etc.)

This work is just one example of how the CCA is working to make sure you have the right to safe food. And we’ll keep working hard for all Canadians with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity!

General Mills Drops Cheerios Gluten-Free Claim

Canadian Celiac Association News Release

gluten-free-cheerios

October 26, 2017 (Mississauga, ON) The Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) has learned that the words “gluten-free” will be removed from all Cheerios packages sold in Canada commencing January 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.”

“We are delighted to hear the claim will be removed voluntarily from the packages”, said Melissa Secord, Executive Director of the Canadian Celiac Association. “We support the General Mills decision to make this voluntary move. Based on the advice of the members of our Professional Advisory Council (PAC) and other professionals working in the field, we believe that there is not adequate evidence to support the current gluten-free claim.”

The CCA will continue to work with industry and government to ensure access to safe foods for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities.

The CCA received a grant from Agriculture and Agrifood Canada to examine the scope of gluten contamination in oats, pulses and other grains grown in Canada, and to determine where the contamination occurs as the grains are 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. People with celiac disease can experience symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and/or migraines.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, triticale and barley. In the case of wheat, gliadin has been isolated as the toxic fraction. It is the gluten in the wheat 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.

Gluten-Free Cheerios Still Getting Complaints

Cheerios is back in the news with an update article from Buzzfeed. According to the article, Celiacs are still being glutened from gluten-free Cheerios that have become cross-contaminated in the manufacturing process.

Gluten-free Cheerios is controversial as it is labelled “gluten-free” but also has a “may contain wheat” statement. The CCA made the unusual move of issuing a special statement to warn Celiac’s not to consume it.

Kelowna Celiac regularly posts Celiac related updates to our Facebook page. The article has received a high number of views and comments. read more below.

Posted by Kelowna Celiac on Thursday, July 6, 2017

US Cherrios Recalled Due to Undeclared Wheat

General Mills Press Release

cherriosGeneral Mills is voluntarily recalling several days of production of Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios cereal produced at its Lodi, California facility on certain dates in July of this year because of an undeclared allergen – wheat – with potential adverse health effects. Because this recall relates to an undeclared allergen, this is a Class I product recall.

Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios produced on these dates at the company’s Lodi, California facility are being recalled because an isolated incident resulted in wheat flour being inadvertently introduced into the gluten free oat flour system at its Lodi facility. As a result, the products may contain an undeclared allergen – wheat – in products labeled as gluten-free.

General Mills will recall and retrieve affected cereals produced on those dates from customer warehouses and store shelves. Consumers with wheat allergies, celiac disease or gluten intolerance should not consume products bearing the affected code dates and should contact General Mills for a replacement or full refund.

This voluntary recall includes four days production of original (yellow box) Cheerios, and thirteen days of production of Honey Nut Cheerios at its Lodi, California facility with the following “BETTER IF USED BY” code dates and the plant code LD which indicates the product was produced at Lodi, California:

cherrio-recall-numbers

Products containing wheat can cause illness or severe reactions for individuals with wheat allergies or celiac disease. Products containing wheat can also cause illness or discomfort for individuals with gluten intolerance.

General Mills is transitioning five varieties of Cheerios to gluten free. Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios cereals produced at General Mills’ other facilities, or on dates other than those noted at the Lodi, California facility, are not impacted. General Mills’ other gluten-free Cheerios varieties – including Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, Frosted Cheerios and MultiGrain Cheerios – are not impacted and are not being recalled. No other General Mills cereals are affected.

Consumers requesting refunds or calling with further questions should contact General Mills Consumer Services at 1-800-775-8370.