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 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 (24)

  • 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
        • Sam Reply

          Thank you so much for this post Cheerios is the only gf Cereal that I always feel sick after eating it . I having been diagnosed having celiac disease and try different gluten free flavor like honey and blueberry. My fave gf is fruit juice flakes for nature path . I just wish gf food was affordable given being from a family of seven.

          October 20, 2019 at 7:53 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).


    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
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      It is really important that you share your experience with Cheerios with the FDA. Please contact FDA’s MEDWATCH, the Adverse Event Reporting System. You can do this online or via phone (800) 332-1088. Choose option #4 to speak to a representative.

      July 25, 2017 at 6:21 pm
    • Susan Zondervan Reply

      I used to love regular Cheerios, even eating them plain, but I have likely become Celiac and have been gluten free for 5 years. (Cannot test because I become too sick to go back on gluten to be tested) I react to the Cheerios every time I eat some. It isn’t a severe reaction, but it isn’t completely gluten free. At first I thought I was picking up contamination from my home, thinking it says it is gluten free! But this happens every time and I can no longer eat it. I am very proud of them for working hard to make gluten free cereals. I would love to be able to eat them again!

      September 8, 2020 at 2:49 am
  • Israel Hadari Reply

    Any new news as for today is it safe to eat Cheerios?
    Thank you

    September 30, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    I was encouraged by the “Gluten-Free” label on Cheerios cereal box. I am gluten sensitive and have become quite sick from the obvious gluten contamination. A day or two after stopping Cheerios the symptoms abated. Shame on General Mills for this false advertising. We will also be in touch with Costco and the who’s endorsement label was included on the box. Thanks for facilitating this forum.

    October 1, 2019 at 5:09 pm
  • Arlene Kennedy Reply

    Unless any product has a certified gluten free mark on the package I will not buy it.

    October 28, 2019 at 5:54 pm
    • C.Bryce Reply

      I used to be that strict too, but as I felt better, I took more risks. Many things are gf but not labeled. But Cheerios, they are Horrible and dangerous to those who do not have bad symptoms. Thankfully I get 🤢 when I eat gluten.
      I had some canned corn not that long ago. Thinking I had nothing to worry about, I even rinsed it in hot water. That evening I started to feel 🤢 No more of that 🌽 again!

      September 29, 2022 at 4:49 am
  • Nina Plaushin Reply

    I am gluten sensitive and every time I eat cherrios, I have stomach problems. Not as bad as if I had eaten bread or pasta, but the reaction is noticeable and rapid. I have experimented with this multiple times and always with the result.

    September 23, 2020 at 1:59 pm
  • C.Bryce Reply

    It is 2022 now and this post is pretty old, but I don’t think they have fixed their Cheerios. I have celiac and had Cheerios a few months back and was sick as a dog (nausea, headache, flu-like, really sick). I will Never buy it again.

    I just read your post on Trader Joe’s GF oats, and I have no issue with them. not yet at least.

    September 29, 2022 at 4:42 am
  • Melissa Emery Reply

    I am a recently diagnosed Celiac October 2022 and was mentioning this very thing to a neighbor that Cheerios was making me sick and she argued with me that it wasn’t the cereal. This was several weeks ago before my diagnosis results and to test again I opened a brand new box and sure enough same reaction. I am suspecting the contamination is Barley as I react very strongly to Barley (I used to love adding Pero to my Hot Chocolate drinks before I understood the link to my digestive problems). The best thing to do is listen to your body! Try as any company might, problems happen, and the only true test is consumer consumption and feedback.

    November 24, 2022 at 12:04 pm

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