Gluten-Free Cheerios: Take Three

Gluten-Free Cheerios: Take Three

This is the latest in a series of news posts on gluten-free oats. For complete information, please refer to the articles posted HERE.

Gluten Free Watchdog test results: We have completed testing on three individual boxes of original (yellow box) Cheerios labeled gluten-free. Test results and a full report are publicly available at www.glutenfreewatchdog.org. On the homepage, please scroll down to “Sample Product Reports” on the left hand side of the page.

Putting gluten test results into context

In 2014, Gluten Free Watchdog published three years worth of testing data in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Summary findings are as follows:

Number of unique food products tested: 158

Products testing below 5 ppm: 137 (86.7%)*

Products testing from 5 to < 10 ppm: 6 (3.8%)

Products testing from > 10 to < 20 ppm: 7 (4.4%)

Products testing > 20 ppm: 8 (5.1%)

*Products categorized by gluten levels based on the highest extraction result.

If Gluten Free Watchdog test results for Cheerios were included in this analysis they would fall in the 5 to < 10 ppm category.

Latest test results provided by General Mills: On August 25, 2015 General Mills advised me that, “… all the lots of Yellow Box Cheerios are testing below 15 ppm. Lots of the other Gluten Free Cheerios products are testing below 10 ppm.”

Final words: You must decide for yourself what gluten-free oat-based foods you will eat. And you should base your decision on the totality of information available to you. But do keep in mind that we have a purity protocol for oats for a reason. If having sources of pure oats available to you is important please continue to support the efforts of those companies that source their oats from growers who follow a purity protocol, such as GF Harvest, Marshall Gluten-Free Mill, Avena Foods, and Montana Gluten-Free.

Note to manufacturers: If you source your oats from a supplier of pure oats please consider including this information on your product label.

Note to manufacturers and consumers: General Mills is not the only supplier of oats to the gluten-free community that cleans “regular” oats via mechanical and/or optical sorting. Please ask questions when sourcing and purchasing oat products if a purity protocol is important to you.

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Comments (13)

  • Becca
    Reply

    What will FDA say or do? Also wondering if the contaminated Cheerios contain wheat, barley, or rye, because I have friends with wheat anaphylaxis. Thank you for all of your hard work.

    August 30, 2015 at 7:27 pm
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      The FDA will not do anything based on test results from Gluten Free Watchdog because the findings are below 20 parts per million of gluten. From what I’ve been told by General Mills, barley is the most problematic grain. The only way to know for sure if barley is the contaminant in Cheerios is to test using the R5 ELISA and the Skerritt omega-gliadin ELISA. Because the omega-gliadin ELISA has a low cross-reactivity with barley, if the results are higher using the R5 and lower using the omega-gliadin then the contaminant is likely barley. If the results are the same, then the contaminant is likely wheat.

      August 30, 2015 at 7:41 pm
    • Kristen Mae Lee Reply

      Note: This comment has been shortened.

      I do disagree with this article though in 2 very distinct ways, 1) I am proud of cheerios for supporting this cause and making the changes (I don’t blame the secretary answering the phone for not knowing every detail of the entire process when being aggressively quizzed by people calling the place. I DO trust the Celiac Foundation and I KNOW General Mills would not be openly advertising their cheerios as gluten-free exposing themselves to millions of dollars in lawsuits, because MONEY MATTERS to the business bottom-line. 2) I don’t trust THESE RESULTS as they are FROM 3 YEARS AGO and I am thrilled that at least they are making EXPENSIVE changes to support an allergy-free food environment during the times when poisons and GMO and chemicals are all the rage in our foods. 3) I trust myself and how MY body reacts to the things I eat. I will post again tomorrow as I bought a box of Honey Nut Cheerios today at the store and had some and I will KNOW without a shadow of doubt if it makes me sick or not because I don’t eat anything that is not totally safe since I have been so ill for so many years. I trust General Mills. For all I know, this article may be written by GF Harvest, Marshall Gluten-Free Mill, Avena Foods, and Montana Gluten-Free to ensure that they keep the money in their own pockets on this new gluten-free gravy train! Gluten-free products are insanely overpriced and the gluten-free cereal that was in my cart until I saw the Cheerios on sale 2 HUGE boxes for $7 cost $4 for 1 TINY box of gluten-free cereal! $7 versus $24 is no contest, in my opinion, and incidentally, the ingredients are almost identical on both of these gluten-free cereals. The gluten-free new food companies can’t compete with the big brands so they MUST do whatever they can to shut them out of the gluten-free cut. I trust myself because I KNOW money makes the world go round and my motivation is my own health, not lining anyone else’s pockets!!!

      March 11, 2017 at 10:02 am
      • Tricia Thompson Reply

        The testing protocol used by General Mills has not changed significantly since 2015. It remains the recommendation of Gluten Free Watchdog that folks with celiac disease not eat gluten-free Cheerios at this time.

        March 14, 2017 at 5:35 pm
  • Bob Goldberg Reply

    Hi Tricia,

    I’ll call them to confirm but do you know if all General Mills GF oat products use the same sorting/test/methods to determine content? I’m thinking about GF Chex Granola mix (whole grain oats are the first in the ingredients list).

    Thanks!

    August 30, 2015 at 7:39 pm
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      I am not sure about the source of oats for Granola. If you do not get a satisfactory answer from General Mills please let me know and I will contact them.

      August 30, 2015 at 7:44 pm
      • Bob Goldberg Reply

        thanks! Will post my findings tomorrow after I speak with them.

        August 30, 2015 at 7:47 pm
      • Karen C. Reply

        I called about the source for the oats. I spent 30 minutes trying to educate the person who answered the phone about purity protocol for oats and were their GF Oats sourced from these sources. I ended up going through the same thing with her supervisor before I finally gave up. They kept repeating the party line of “oats are GF”. I have just decided that it’s not worth getting sick. If you could verify and ask them to label accordingly that would be awesome!

        August 31, 2015 at 12:46 pm
  • BJ Reply

    I opted to try the gluten-free Cheerios. Four different boxes (mixing yellow box Cheerios and Honey Nut so they weren’t so sweet), two different states (South Dakota and Colorado). In SD, I did not get terribly sick, but did notice my stomach/intestines just didn’t feel as well as they usually do and had very mild symptoms of when I run into gluten. As my parents’ home is not entirely GF, I wasn’t completely sure if the Cheerios were bothering me or if I was somehow getting cross-contamination. I bought two more boxes in CO yesterday and within about 20 minutes, started getting a stomach ache and some of my other symptoms, but more severe than I did in SD. I can say the Cheerios must have been fairly low gluten as my symptoms are fairly mild, but they were *not* gluten-free!! My stomach can tell you that even without know they exact ppm.

    Kudos to GM for trying to create gluten-free Cheerios, but as my sister said, “They need to be educated.” Another friend mentioned it’s probably going to take quite a few people getting sick and calling in before GM realizes their standards for gluten-free aren’t cutting it for the very people they want to add back in to their product sales. I will be calling GM to let them know I got sick as I believe it’s important for them to hear that. So disappointed that Cheerios will not be a viable option after all!

    August 30, 2015 at 9:28 pm
  • Travis Reply

    I’m glad I’m done working with the mechanical sorting process of oats. Tricia made a good point. Buy your oats from a pure source. Mistakes will happen and I’m not at all surprised that people are getting sick off of non recalled boxes.

    October 6, 2015 at 3:37 pm
  • destyne Reply

    I am a celiac and to this day every time I have eaten cheerios, I have gotten really sick.

    July 24, 2017 at 2:00 pm

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