Everyone seems so big on “opinions” these days (wake me up when the primaries are over). But when it comes to the safety of the celiac community, I’d prefer to stick with facts.
A few months ago, while it seems everyone was celebrating the upcoming gluten-free cheerios, I took a more “wait-and-see” approach. I spent a few days at the General Mills factory and came away impressed by the folks in the mill (and not quite as impressed by everything else.)
Now that the Gluten-Free Cheerios are beginning to hit the store shelves, many of my fellow celiacs have been reaching out to me asking if I think they are safe.
Here’s the question. Does it matter what I think? All that matters is what the facts are. So I’m going to lay out the facts from two valuable resources: The Gluten-Free Watchdog and the folks at General Mills.
Gluten-Free Watchdog (GFWD)
Tricia wrote a very, very thorough review after she traveled to General Mills and viewed GM’s process and test results of the yellow box variety of Cheerios. Read the whole thing here. I’ll summarize the highlights.
Highlight: GFWD still does not support the use of regular oats in gluten-free food, even if they are “cleaned” via a sorting process, such as the one that GM uses.
Highlight: The testing consisted of taking 12-18 boxes of cereal from the production cycle, combining them all together, grounding them and then testing them.
Highlight: The vast majority of the product they tested came under 20 parts per million, many were below the lower limit of quantification of 10 parts per million, and some extractions were above 20 parts per million (one substantially above).
Highlight: This is a direct quote from Tricia: Based on extraction values shared with me I am not fully confident that every box of Yellow Box Cheerios from the 88 lots produced at the time of my visit to General Mills contains a level of gluten less than 20 parts per million.
Highlight: Because they are combining 12-18 boxes in one testing batch, possible dilution takes place. This means one box “could” be way over 20ppm but we’d never know it because the other boxes “could” be way under 20ppm, balancing it all out.
Highlight: Cheerios should consider sourcing oats from farmers who provide the cleanest oats possible.
Thanks Tricia for all of your hard work. The celiac community greatly appreciates it.
The folks at GM sent me the following email yesterday.
We have 34 days of Original Cheerios production across our 4 Cheerios plants. Each of those run days has at least 12 samples that we pull.
– The mean ppm of those samples is 7.
– 30 days had an average < 10ppm - 2 days = 11ppm; 2 days = 12ppm Furthermore, we have some data on some of the other flavors (that run less frequently due to size of business). - Multi-Grain Cheerios: 2 run days across 2 plants -- Mean <5ppm - Apple Cinnamon Cheerios: 1 run day across 1 plant --Mean <5ppm As always, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out. We are likely talking to Tricia on the 12th or 13th and would be happy to update you on some of the specifics of that dialogue once we land on the date. Thank you!
So there you have it. Make your own decision as to whether they are safe to eat based on the above facts.
And ok…fine…I will share my OPINION. I mean, what’s a blog post without at least a teensy opinion.
I think the Gluten-Free Cheerios are most likely safe to eat. And I do believe the folks at GM are trying their absolute best to make them safe for you to eat.
Will I be eating them? No. I stay away from processed cereal. The worst way to start your day.
If I did eat cereal, would I eat them? Not yet. I’d wait to see what GFWD comes back with.
And those are the facts.