Updated Testing Protocol from General Mills for Labeled Gluten-Free CheeriosTricia Thompson
General Mills uses standard oats that have been mechanically and optically sorted to remove wheat, barley, and rye in their labeled gluten-free Cheerios.
Finished product testing
(As reported to Gluten Free Watchdog and confirmed October 12, 2018)
- General Mills is producing gluten-free Cheerios using what they term “validated gluten-free flour.”
- General Mills determines gluten-free status of a “lot” of oat flour via a lot mean.
- Further, General Mills determines gluten-free status of a “lot” of gluten-free Cheerios via a lot mean.
- In both cases, General Mills defines a “lot” as a 24-hour production cycle.
- To arrive at a lot mean for gluten-free Cheerios, the following protocol is followed:
- Twelve to eighteen boxes of cereal are pulled during a production cycle or “lot”.
- The contents of each individual box are ground.
- A sub-sample of ground product is taken from each box.
- The sub-samples are composited—meaning they are combined.
- The combined sub-samples are subject to additional grinding.
- A minimum of six, 1-gram sample extractions are taken from this combined, ground sample (Note, formerly this was a minimum of twelve, 0.25 gram sample extractions).
- Extractions are tested using the Ridascreen Fast Gliadin (R7002) and cocktail extraction solution.
Questions about General Mills’ updated testing protocol:
- Why isn’t General Mills testing 1-gram extractions from each of the 12 boxes pulled during a production cycle after the contents are ground?
- Why is General Mills combining sub-samples from each box of ground Cheerios and then testing this composite sample?
- If one or more of these extractions tests at/above 20 ppm, how does General Mills know where in the production cycle there may be wheat or barley seeds?
- Why is General Mills averaging the test results for all extractions?
This testing protocol continues to baffle. Consumers eat from a single box of Cheerios. They are not eating a “lot” of Cheerios.
It is genuinely curious why General Mills does not follow a testing protocol similar to the protocol followed by Quaker. Quaker also uses standard oats that have been mechanically and optically sorted to remove wheat, barley, and rye in their labeled gluten-free oatmeal.
- According to information provided to GFWD and confirmed October 16, 2018:
- Quaker grinds the contents of individual packets or cartons of oats.
- Each individual ground packet/tube is tested in duplicate.
- If any single extraction tests above 12 ppm the entire lot is discarded.
- Quaker also uses the formally validated Ridascreen Gliadin R5 ELISA (R7001) versus the fast version of the assay used by General Mills.
It would be truly fascinating to hear a debate between the statistician for Quaker and the statistician for General Mills.