Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to reflect my changing opinions on Cheerios and in light of the recall of 1.8 million boxes of contaminated boxes.
Early this year I heard grumblings that Cheerios would soon be gluten free. I’m always thrilled when big companies work hard to make their brands healthier and more accessible to the special diet population. Even though Celiacs (like me) only make up 1% of the population, 30% of the population follows or experiments with a gluten free diet.
As you go out and buy these oat Os, be reminded of a few things:
General Mills Does NOT Use a Third-Party to Certify its Products as Gluten Free: Not sure why a company of this size would choose to self-regulate itself. As consumers, we have to know that companies shouldn’t be left to decide what we eat as they are not driven by health, they are driven by money. Cheerios doesn’t want a third party gluten-free certification program to come in and supervise what it’s doing. Why not? It’s a good question we should all be asking why a company of this size won’t let a certification program peek behind the curtains. By self regulating itself, 1.8 boxes of Cheerios became contaminated – that means either General Mills does not know what it’s doing, or it doesn’t truly care whether or not it’s doing it right!
Not all Cheerios are gluten free. The original Cheerios in the yellow box is marked “gluten free,’ as well as the Honey Nut, Apples Cinnamon, Multigrain, and Frosted varieties. You can identify gluten free varieties with a gluten free stamp on the front of the box. (IMPORTANT: Please note this stamp is something General Mills designed itself – it is not a certification from a third-party gluten free certifying agency. Be a smart consumer!!)
Cheerios are not made with certified gluten free oats. Now I’ve heard that gluten free Cheerios are not made with certified gluten free oats. This is true, actually, and has been quite concerning to me. The Gluten Free Watchdog says (as of August 11, 2015) that people with Celiac should NOT eat gluten free Cheerios. However, General Mills addresses this topic on its website, saying, “The first ingredient in Cheerios is whole-grain oats. Oats are naturally gluten-free, but the general oats supply comes with small amounts of wheat, rye and barley that are introduced at the farm and during transportation. We have created a process that allows us to remove the wheat, rye and barley from the oats we purchase, making Cheerios gluten-free.” I’d believe that General Mill’s process to decontaminate their oats actually worked if they were verified gluten free by a third party agency – obviously their self-certification process didn’t work one bit!
Be Skeptical of the “Dedicated GF Facility” Claim: General Mills says on its website that it is using a dedicated gluten free facility. How can we believe this to be true now? How in the world did gluten get into 1.8 million boxes of Cheerios if you’re doing this in a dedicated facility??
Disclosure: Earlier this year Cheerios officials offered to send me some gluten free Cheerios to try and I accepted. At first I was excited but after talking to others in the industry and in light of the 1.8 million boxes recalled, I am feel it was only right to update this information to share my distaste with General Mills. My advice to General Mills is to GET CERTIFIED BY A THIRD PARTY AGENCY – your self-certification means nothing to me. I only feel now that you’re hiding something…