Gluten in Cheerios?! More on Gluten Free Oats


Is There Gluten In Cheerios?!

Maybe GF cheerios boxYou may have heard about the infamous General Mills Cheerios recall of some lots of Yellow Box and Honey Nut Cheerios labeled as GLUTEN FREE due to gluten contamination, after reports of consumer illness.

For details on the recall itself, what caused it and which boxes were affected, read Cheerios Recall Facts below. For 2017 updates on this continuing controversy, scroll below the recall information.




Due to reports of consumer illness, the FDA has now tested 36 samples of Cheerios products labeled “gluten free” for gluten contamination as well, finding one Honey Nut Cheerios sample that contained more than twice what is allowed under FDA gluten-free labeling rules.

The sample testing at 43ppm was from one of the recalled lots. Please check the “use by” dates on any boxes you may have.

If you have been made sick by Cheerios boxes labeled Gluten Free, please contact the FDA MEDWATCH Adverse Event Reporting System (800) 332-1088 (choose option #4 to speak to a representative) or online.

If you’d like to report your experience to General Mills and/or want a refund, call 800-775-8370.

cheerios recall


Gluten in Cheerios UPDATE: AUGUST 2016:

The Canadian Celiac Associate (CCA) recently reacted to the news that General Mills is introducing “gluten free” Cheerios to Canada, but they are made with mechanically or optically sorted oats, not with purity protocol oats. Here is an excerpt from their position statement recommending that celiacs NOT eat these Cheerios or any other products made with sorted oats:

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.

Gluten in Cheerios Update: July 2017:

Reports of illness from Cheerios continue to stream in to the FDA. Buzzfeed filed a Freedom of Information Request and reported on the claims which are still being made by celiacs and others who say they’ve been sickened by Cheerios. Jocelyn Silvester, a physician at Boston Children’s Hospital, says that her team recommends patients with celiac disease avoid products made with mechanically-optically separated oats, noting that it remains unclear whether any given product is safe and there is no reliable tool to find out for sure.

Gluten in Cheerios Update: October 2017:

The Canadian Celiac Association has released this news: “The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has made an announcement that the words “gluten-free” will be removed from all Cheerios package sold in Canada by January 1, 2018.” However, General Mills has said it will not remove any boxes currently labeled gluten-free; it will not label Cheerios as gluten-free with replenishment of stock.

Melissa Secord, Executive Director of the Canadian Celiac Association elaborated, “Based on the advice of the members of our Professional Advisory Board, the experts of the Gluten-Free Certification Program, and other professionals working in the field, we believe that there is not adequate evidence to support the claim. When added to many reports from consumers with celiac disease reacting to eating the cereal, we believe this is the safe recommendation for Canadians.”

We can only hope that the FDA follows suit so that Cheerios sold in the U.S. will no longer be labeled gluten-free, but it will only happen if they hear from enough consumers to merit the change.

If you have been made sick by Cheerios boxes labeled Gluten Free, please contact the FDA MEDWATCH Adverse Event Reporting System (800) 332-1088 (choose option #4 to speak to a representative) or online.

For more information on why gluten-free experts are not satisfied with General Mills’ current testing protocols for Cheerios boxes labeled “gluten free,” go to The Gluten Free Watchdog.

radio microphoneTo learn more about the kind of oats Cheerios is using, versus “pure” and certified gluten-free oats, listen to this “Gluten Free Voice” free podcast.


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