[Dude note: See my follow up post from my Cheerios visit here: Gluten-Free Cheerios? Here’s the Deal.]
Just another week of celiac BS (and it’s only Wednesday!). We had a chef saying that our “gluten-free requests were met with the same enthusiasm as a genital herpes infection.” We had a waitress saying “most of the time you order something special, we bring you what we want and you never know the difference.” And lastly, there is a new video making the rounds that pokes fun at those eating gluten-free. Gee…how original.
But we’re gonna keep things positive today and talk about Cheerios. Yes…I said Cheerios.
Last month, General Mills announced that five of the Cheerios flavors will be officially gluten-free this summer. How will they be gluten-free when their main ingredient is oats and as we all know, unless you use certified gluten free oats, the risk of cross-contamination is extremely high (kind of like the state of Colorado these days)?
Darn good question.
GM says they are using a proprietary method that they have been working on for years that removes all traces of wheat, barley and rye from their cereal. Now the word “proprietary” usually sets off some alarm bells in my head. To understand the process a bit more, here’s a video that GM put together:
I love how they mention celiac disease in the video. It’s always nice when it gets the recognition it deserves.
My first question is simple: Why not just use certified gluten-free oats? I am assuming it’s a money thing as they say there will be no price change.
But the million dollar question is…will Cheerios truly be gluten-free?
The folks from GM state the following:
“The sorting process ensures that the oats in our Cheerios products are gluten free. The oats will be processed in a dedicated gluten-free facility. Production locations also ensure that no cross-contact can occur during manufacturing and/or packaging. All General Mills products labeled as “gluten free” meet the FDA standard.”
When it comes to celiac, I’m skeptical by nature…so yeah…I’m not quite sold on this. I’d need more info…a lot more info.
Well, low and behold, I’m heading to Minnesota next week to meet with the General Mills folks for two full days. Here’s the email I received:
Hi Gluten Dude. Your work within the gluten-free community caught our attention and we would like to invite you to participate in our gluten-free forum, an intimate group of gluten-free leaders meeting March 25-26 at the General Mills headquarters in Minneapolis.
As you may know, Cheerios announced their gluten-free initiative this year and the availability of Gluten Free Cheerios this fall. While making Cheerios available to everyone is our priority, we also recognize we have a lot to learn about what it is like living gluten free. For the future of Gluten Free Cheerios, we believe involving the gluten-free community in our process and launch is critical.
Forum participants will range from medical professionals, to celiac organizations, to gluten-free chefs. Beyond gathering a range of perspectives to help shape Gluten Free Cheerios, we want to hear how we can better meet the needs of the gluten-free community. What needs attention? Where could General Mills become involved? How can we help make your community stronger?
They are inviting 8-10 people to be a part of this so it’s pretty cool I was included.
I said I would come ONLY if I could share my experience with the community when I returned. I was met with silence at first and then they came back the next day and said I could share anything I wanted.
So just like Mary Richards, I am headed to Minneapolis for what should be an interesting experience.
Am I hesitant? A bit.
Will I eat the Cheerios while there? Not until I learn ALL about their methods.
Do I wish I could bring you all with me? Absolutely.
Here is what I need from you.
I would like to go in armed with questions for them. I’ve got my own list but would love to hear from you folks as well.
What concerns do you have? What would you like me to find out? Send me anything and everything you have.
I look forward to sharing my experience with you. Until then, I’ll be submersed in all things Cheerios.