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

Gluten-Free Cheerios Not Recommended by CCA

General Mills Canada announced last week that five Cheerios flavours sold in Canada will carry a gluten- free claim. Original Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios, Multi-Grain Cheerios, Apple Cinnamon Cheerios and Chocolate Cheerios will be rolled out across the country in August. The Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) held a conference call with representatives of General Mills Canada and General Mills US on August 2nd 2016 to discuss our concerns with the gluten-free label on these products.

Recommendation

The Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) recommends that people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity DO NOT consume the gluten-free labeled Cheerios products at this time because of concerns about the potential levels of gluten in boxes of these cereals. The CCA is receptive to evaluating any additional information that General Mills is willing to disclose.

Why is the CCA concerned?

Oats are a naturally gluten-free grain; however, it has been documented that oats are frequently cross-contaminated with gluten-containing grains, especially barley and wheat. Health Canada scientists have tested commercial oat samples and found high levels of gluten contamination. Cross-contamination can occur because oats often are grown in rotation with other crops, harvested and transported with equipment that is also used for gluten-containing grains.

We know the following:

  1. Oats are an extremely high risk grain and even “gluten-free oats” are at high risk for gluten contamination.
  2. It is very difficult to remove gluten-containing grains from oats using optical and mechanical technology alone because barley and wheat are similar in size, shape and color as oats. Broken kernels present in the grain also add to the sorting challenge.
  3. General Mills is using a cleaning system that they developed based on mechanical sorting to remove barley and wheat from regular commercial oats.
  4. Gluten contamination in oats is not distributed evenly through a batch; therefore, “hot spots” of high contamination can occur.

Based on the information provided to date, our scientific advisors are not convinced that the testing procedures described by General Mills are sufficient to detect these contamination “hot spots” in the oats and oat flour or in the boxes of cereal that may contain those contaminated oats. As a result, some boxes of cereal in the market may be safe for people with celiac disease while others contain significant gluten contamination that has not been detected using current testing protocols.

The CCA is receptive to evaluating any additional information that General Mills is willing to disclose. Until then, the CCA stands by its advice that people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should not consume Cheerios products in spite of the gluten-free claim.

CCA’s Position on the Safety of Oats

The CCA relies on advice from our Professional Advisory Council (PAC) and other scientific experts for recommendations on the safety of oats for people with celiac disease. The PAC “Position statement on consumption of oats by individuals with celiac disease” indicates the need for evidence-based, peer-reviewed, published data that demonstrates the levels of gluten in oats that have been cleaned using mechanical and/or optical sorting procedures.

There are three product brands currently on the market made with gluten-free oats that are manufactured in facilities certified by the CCA’s Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP):

  • Holy Crap Plus Gluten Free Oats
  • Quaker Oats (several types)
  • Nairn (several products)

These companies have demonstrated to independent parties, trained GFCP auditors and GFCP technical personnel, that both their processed oats and finished products meet Health Canada’s standard for gluten free and are safe for individuals with celiac disease.

What if I eat Cheerios and have a problem?

We realize that some people with celiac disease will decide to eat Cheerios. The CCA recommends that if you experience a reaction to the cereal, you should notify the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (MAPAQ in Quebec), General Mills Canada, the store that sold you the package and the CCA.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (all provinces except Quebec)
Please keep the remainder of the cereal package and any unopened boxes purchased at the same time until it is clear whether CFIA is interested in testing the package for gluten.

MAPAQ (Quebec only)

General Mills Customer Service

Canadian Celiac Association
Email or Facebook

How do I help get the message out that “gluten free” must mean “safe for celiac disease”?

This is an issue of significant concern to the Canadian Celiac Association.

  1. Contact General Mills Canada Customer service and tell them that you would like to eat Cheerios, but not until you are sure the product is safe for people with celiac disease.
  2. Contact Health Canada (Bureau of Chemical Safety) and tell them that you want “gluten free” to mean “safe for people with celiac disease” so that you do not have figure out if the test protocols used by a particular manufacturer are adequate to detect gluten contamination.
Please copy the CCA on your messages to Health Canada.

Anne Wraggett
President, Board of Directors
Canadian Celiac Association

P.S. Has the CCA made a difference in the quality of your gluten-free life? You can help us continue to address food safety issues with a donation to the CCA at www.celiac.ca/donate.

For a PDF copy of this email visit: http://www.celiac.ca/b/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/CCA_Statement_on_Cheerios.pdf

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.