The Cheerios Recall (aka…The Gluten-Free Sh*t Storm)

gluten free cheerios not safe

Dude Note: If you are new to the whole gluten-free Cheerios debacle, click here and here for a quick refresher course.

So…Nature’s Path was at the Gluten-Free Expo in NJ this past weekend. (Yes…this is relevant.) It was discovered they were handing out samples that were…wait for it…NOT GLUTEN FREE. And because they were samples, there were no ingredients listed. Can you believe it? Not only that, but the next day, someone sent me an image of their “Love Crunch Bar” that says Certified Gluten-Free on the front. And what does it say on the back? MAY CONTAIN WHEAT. Seriously. It’s companies like this that I don’t want anywhere near me or my stomach.

This leads me into my “WE ARE NOT LAB RATS FOR YOU TO EXPERIMENT ON” celiac rant.

cheerios not safe

If you did not hear the news yesterday, Cheerios VOLUNTARILY (like they had a choice) recalled 1.8 million boxes of gluten-free Plain and Honey Nut Cheerios “because an isolated incident resulted in wheat flour being inadvertently introduced into the gluten free oat flour system.” (their words, not mine). You can read the whole statement here.

Now…let me bring you back 10 days, after I’d been hearing story after story of my fellow celiacs getting sick after eating Cheerios. I emailed my connection at Cheerios the following:

I know you guys have been getting pretty slammed. And I know that many in the celiac community have gotten quite sick from eating Cheerios. It seems obvious to me that your “mean” testing is not sufficient. Any thoughts on what you are going to do to improve the situation?

Notice there was no attacking…no disrespect. If Cheerios is going to be on the shelf, I’ll do what I can to educate and help the community.

A few days later, I heard back, not from my connection, but from their Brand Media Relations Manager (I gotta get me one of those). Here is what he told me:

Cheerios are safe โ€“ and they are gluten free. But celiac disease is a complex condition, and dietary changes for people with celiac disease often require the assistance of a trained physician. Dietary restrictions are individual and unique. Before introducing new foods into the diet, even gluten free oat products, experts routinely recommend that people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity consult first with their treating physician.

We made Cheerios gluten-free to help provide an affordable, nutrient-dense option for those seeking a gluten-free option. And Cheerios are gluten free. However, even oat-based gluten-free products may not be tolerable for all people with celiac disease. Because the circumstances of any one individual are unique, even gluten-free Cheerios may still not be an option for all celiacs. We care deeply about our consumers, and particularly about the Gluten Free community. We also know that no one product may ever work for 100% of the celiac community.

If consumers have questions or concerns, please have them contact us directly. Weโ€™ll provide information to help them and their physician make an informed decision about our gluten-free products.

Typical corporate mish-mash, flim-flam, jib-jab. Typical corporate arrogance.

We’re GM.
We don’t make mistakes.
The issues must be with the consumer…not us.
We know more about celiac disease than you do.

Oh and yeah, finding a physician to have our back would be nice. But have you read these doctor horror stories? And what would a physician possibly say about eating Cheerios anyway? A doctor’s visit for a celiac usually entails “Don’t eat gluten.” Thanks doc.

cheerios recall
“I bet there’s gonna be a recall on Monday!”

Not loving his answer, I then followed up with this:

I appreciate the response. My dedication is to the celiac community so if you don’t mind, I’d love to ask you a few questions:

  • Why are you using mean testing instead of testing individual boxes?
  • Will you release your testing scores and if not, why?
  • Do you find it a bit…thinking of the right word here…questionable for Cheerios to pay bloggers and popular websites (UpWorthy) to promote your product?

His response? Silence. Nothing but silence. I prodded him a bit further and he simply danced around the questions, not answering any of them.

And now I know why.

Now I know why they don’t test individual boxes.
Now I know why they will not release their testing scores.
Now I know why so many celiacs have gotten sick the past few months after eating Cheerios.
Now I know why I should always listen to my gut (no pun intended).

But there is still so much I don’t know.

I don’t know why we have an FDA rule that mandates that any food item labeled gluten-free must fall below 20PPM, but the rule does not require manufacturers to test their final products to prove that they actually contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten.

I don’t know why it took until October 5 to announce the recall when this incident happened in July.

I don’t know how they came to find out about the incident. Did they test a few boxes that came back real high and then reverse-engineered what happened? We’ll never know.

I don’t know why so many are willing to forgive and forget already and are happy that they haven’t gotten sick yet. I got a comment on Facebook that said “Ok. So the multigrain ones are NOT affected?” My response was simply: “Seriously?”

I don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky…stormy weather.

Look…do I think the folks at GM are evil people who are intentionally poisoning us for profit? No I don’t. But damn…transparency goes such a long way, especially within our community. Instead of denying for months that your product was causing our community harm, don’t you wish you kept the lines of communication open just a bit more?

got sick eating gluten free cheerios
“Ummm…Joyce…about those Cheerios…”

And instead of paying bloggers and other websites to promote your product, don’t you wish you took a more “sincere” route?

And instead of using “Phil” as your marketing ploy (trying to grab at our heart strings), don’t you now wish you used a different approach? Because Phil’s niece most likely got sick. I actually feel bad for Phil. I met him. Good guy. Been at GM for 51 years. Got used.

And here’s the million dollar question: What becomes of the “dedicated gluten free facility” where the incident happened? Does it simply get hosed down and you call it a day? How will you prevent cross-contamination using the same facility?

So disgusted. So disappointed. So tired of needing to write these kind of posts.

I created a new hashtag on Twitter last week that came from an awesome suggestion via email after all of the jokes about gluten free on TV last week.

It’s #NoCureNoChoice (please use and share.)

It simply means…you can’t do gluten-free half ass. We have to live this way for the rest of our lives. We take enough risks every time we eat outside our home. If you make a product and you label it gluten-free, it damn well better be safe for us.

Do it right for the celiac community or get out of the gluten-free business.

And that includes you Cheerios.

Update: Just got this word straight from Cheerios: “Finished product testing was not done on these run dates at Lodi (the facility where the incident happened), and therefore this problem was not discovered at the time of production.”

Process that folks. For 13 days, no testing was done on the finished product. Just wonderful. GM…[expletive goes here].

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113 thoughts on “The Cheerios Recall (aka…The Gluten-Free Sh*t Storm)”

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this site. I saw the news yesterday and am so very happy that I had read your earlier post about Cheerios and had decided to wait it out a bit to see what happened with GM. I get frustrated when they automatically bring up oats as a possible trigger for celiacs – yes, it absolutely is, however I eat oatmeal almost every day – there are plenty of us who have GF oats frequently with no issues. And my Dr. – who is wonderful and diagnosed me after talking to me for 5 minutes (and then sent me on to testing to verify) – even said to talk to a nutritionist if I had food questions. Even good GI doctors are not nutritionists and not all nutritionists understand celiac. It would be easy if this affected all of us the same, but we know that it doesn’t. I eat cereal for breakfast only rarely and usually while travelling (it is easy and convenient), but it usually leaves me starving two hours later, so it isn’t something I seek out. I’ll continue to hold off on the GM sorting process until and unless they figure out their testing and it all proves out to be safe. Getting sick is no fun and I’m certainly not going to knowingly walk into a situation where it is a real possibility to occur.

      1. FDA created the loophole that allows untested product to be shipped. If you read their final rule, you’ll see FDA wrote they would test products brought to their attention. And now we see a big corporation driving a truck through a rule intended to balance the needs of Celiacs and producers’ costs of throwing out batches that go over 20ppm. This exploitation is a deliberate strategy by GM, especially as they uses a mean score to assess gluten level.

        The true scandal if you ask me is a certain well known Celiac researcher who publicly advocated for a 20ppm standard and said that those Celiacs who were more sensitive should consult with their physicians. Guess what, we’re poster kids for getting the mass of faddists to fork over more money to the corporations stuck trying to increase margins on commodity products.


        1. “The true scandal if you ask me is a certain well known Celiac researcher who publicly advocated for a 20ppm standard and said that those Celiacs who were more sensitive should consult with their physicians. ”


          1. AMEN!! Seems to be catering to the wheat catered world! Why does there need to be wheat in anything? Greens Beer is the best beer ever, 0% gluten. Canyon house bread 100% GF. Every food grown is 100% GF except wheat, why not keep it that way?

        2. “The true scandal if you ask me is a certain well known Celiac researcher who publicly advocated for a 20ppm standard and said that those Celiacs who were more sensitive should consult with their physicians.”


    1. Yes, Thank You Gluten Dude! After reading you posts about Cheerios I decided I would not be eating them. I appreciate you giving the facts so that we can make an informed decision. Thanks for helping to keep our Celiac community safe and informed. I really appreciate your site and your efforts to advocate for those of us with Celiac disease.

  2. This is my first time reading into this whole cheerios debacle, and I couldn’t agree more. If you are going to profit on a Gluten-Free target audience, your product needs to be 100% GLUTEN FREE. Not “Gluten-Free” by “mean” testing, or “Whoops we messed up our trucks but everything else is Gluten-Free, trust us”.

    Thanks for the article!

  3. I can’t help but think of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall”.

    Hey, General Mills, leave us kids alone!

    1. Nicely done…

      “If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding, how can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat!” “You! Yes, you! behind the bikesheds, stand still laddie!”

  4. I wasn’t willing to try them anyway due to my sensitivity to cross contact. Sometimes I question if I am being a little too careful and events like this just confirm that I need to continue being ultra paranoid.

    1. Ditto… We hate being so paranoid, but when stuff like this goes down it makes a person realize how vigilant we need to be. No one without this disease can begin to understand this preoccupation with food safety.

  5. As I posted on their Facebook page last night, “Sorry doesn’t cut it.”

    You can’t just say “sorry” and “we’re embarrassed”. This effects our community deeply.

    Some people may be ill for months or YEARS because they got glutened. What if someone with a wheat allergy ate these? We’re not talking “tummy ache”, we’re talking anaphylactic shock.

    They mixed in wheat flour with their oats and all they say is “Sorry?”

    I don’t know how I could ever trust them after this.

  6. I was on the treadmill at the gym last night when I saw this on the news. “Oh my gosh! I knew it was true! (and some other comments) ” Didn’t realize I had said it out loud until people started turning around looking at me :). I’ve been in manufacturing quality control for many years and mean testing doesn’t mean squat when testing for gluten. Not touching them. No way!

  7. How does mixing in wheat flour with their oats happen in a DEDICATED GLUTEN FREE facility? How did the wheat even get there for the “incident” to occur? So disturbing.


        “The company said Monday the foul-up occurred when the Lodi plant lost rail service and its gluten-free flour was transferred from rail cars to trucks. (…) General Mills said oat flour was contaminated when bulk rail cars full of the stuff were offloaded into bulk trucks, Foster said. The bulk trucks were believed to recently have carried wheat, she said.”

        Their shipping of oat flour hit a snag, and their alternative had a huge mess up. Since they used to only test it at the oat flour stage before the flour was shipped out they didn’t catch it.

  8. Thank you so much for posting this and keeping us informed. What’s sad is that people with celiac or gluten sensitivity who aren’t aware of this and will get sick as a result. No thanks to trying the new “gluten free” Cheerios – I am sticking to trusted brands that have always been GF and always will be.

  9. If GM had accidentaly mixed up the sugar coating with rat poison they would be shut down and investigated and …. This is truly the same for we with Celiac. It will take one with Celiac months to recover from the bit of gluten they have ingested. This is a huge deal, it should be considered criminal. I know so many, too many, think it is nothing, but truly consider, your finding the cereal your 2 year old has been eating has aersenic in it. Gluten is a Celiacs Aersenic.

  10. Now I really have no interest in trying the Cheerios. Sorry to hear so many people have gotten sick and that the GM corporation needs to buy a clue. I got sick from Chex GF oatmeal (which I hear is going to be discontinued anyway), also made by GM. They can’t be trusted. Only going to eat products that have certified GF oats from now on.

  11. In my opinion, GM is no better than the restaurants who have a “gluten free menu” that lists a bunch of fried items, then has a disclaimer in small print “fryer shared with gluten items”. And everyone thinks we’re just going into fits of hysteria for no reason. My coworkers thought I was crazy for bringing all of my food with me on a week-long trip and refusing to have anything at said restaurant except a glass of wine. People at GM will think we’re crazy because we won’t eat their delicious product. I’m just glad we have you, GD, to point out how ludicrous the situation is.

    1. Not to burst your bubble or make things worse, but you have to be careful about wine. Sometimes the wine barrels are sealed shut with a (wheat) flour/water paste, so there’s a possibility of cross contamination ๐Ÿ™

      1. I’ve seen this claim all over the place on celiac websites, but I have yet to find ANY winemakers who currently do this. And every wine specific website that discusses whether wine is gluten-free denies that any winemakers would seal barrels with wheat flour. I drink a rather substantial amount of wine and have had no reaction, so I’m going to continue to enjoy my wine until I have reason not to.

      2. One of the biggest misconceptions is what is actually safe to eat/drink based on myths. I’m in a very fortunate circumstance in that my company’s customers are actually Food/Bev manufacturers. I get to speak to the formulators/compliance team members directly at conferences and find out exactly how they formulate/produce products and what is safe.

        Some manufacturers are placing a very high priority on developing extremely safe products.

        Needless to say, our buying habits have changed significantly based on this.

        And before you give up on wine, I’d find out how reliable the source is. And oh— there are some other great alcohols that you might presume to be off limits that are actually ok.

  12. I worked for BIG corporate America for many years. They are NOT evil. That is fact. But they do care about ONE THING – profits.
    If a “few” people are injured, OH WELL. When the number reaches a level that causes public outrage then it will matter.

      1. Yes, you are so right
        But it seems society is sliding toward “if its a big corporation then it can’t be THAT evil”
        I did not work there long!

    1. It’s a matter of a lack of empathy. You can’t really have empathy and work that way. I recommend the film “The Corporation” as it really breaks down what it takes to run a business in that manner. You’d pretty much have to be a sociopath.

  13. I think perhaps the FDA doesn’t really have a clue as to what is and isn’t safe for Celiacs. GM should never have been permitted to label their product Gluten Free.

  14. Colette Sullivan-Ledoux

    I suspect the company will find the cheapest and easiest way out of this debacle. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they simply change the box label to read “Gluten Friendly,” and somewhere in the fine print add a disclaimer stating that the product is not suitable for those with celiac disease.

    Cheerios is a highly processed, non-essential product. Who really needs it?

  15. Susan Oldberg Hinton

    Great rant and good points raised, GD!

    You missed a key point in GM’s note I urge you to revisit– where they invite folks from Greater CeliacWorld and Greater GlutenIntolerantWorld to contact them–individually! They want to answer EACH of us individually? Let’s give them that opportunity!

  16. I love the way you write! And WOW! to all of that. I am especially insulted that GM tried to teach you (Poorly and inefficiently) that some celiacs can’t tolerate oats. Well DUUUUUHHHHH! And those of us who can’t tolerate oats already know it (well some of us know it) and wouldn’t be buying Cheerios in the first place! UGH! I cannot tolerate oats, but my kids can. They were so happy to have Cheerios again. They had gone through a couple of boxes before I started hearing about how shady the testing was and that the product is not reliably GF. They didn’t have gut distress, but looking back, they did have more fatigue and irritability. So they are not eating them again. I wish they could. If truly GF, plain Cheerios are actually a healthy choice for a snack. And I did write GM and complain, twice. Second time I YELLED at them to pull all their ads.

  17. Dude –

    I’ve said everything I needed to say all over the FB threads, but wanted to throw my support here too. “Do or not do, there is no try.” Thank you for standing on a very unpopular opinion and voice for everyone out there who feels like they have none. Despite being a sad day for all of those who have become sick and affected by this atrocity, I hope this incident proves to you how much you are respected, loved, and needed by this community. Oh… and just because it feels so good to say….. #TOLDYASO

    Please give my best to Mrs. Dude.

    1. Exactly. My family doctor did her best to help with the limited knowledge she had. We googled things together and discussed things. But the knowledge she had would not be in any way sufficient to determine whether certain products are safe for me to eat. My gastroentorologist was even worse; he just told me to eat gluten free and sent me on my way.

      1. The whole “consult a physician” is the ultimate “we promise nothing” tactic there is. Of course you don’t consult with a doctor who will (of course!) have no idea about so-called-GF product X either. It’s straight-up shifting of blame before the fact. No Cheerios or other GM products for my house.

  18. Thank you for being so calm and the go-between for so many of us. I have non-celiac gluten intolerance. And many times I trick myself into thinking something is safer for me than it would be for celiacs… And then I pay the price. I did this with Cheerios. Bought a box the first time I saw the GF label and was sick after the first bowl. I was disappointed that I couldn’t eat them again, but what else is new. I was more angry that what I was hoping was true, was not. Meaning that I hoped Cheerios had done a nice thing for us, but it was a lie.

    1. I am also “just” intolerant and also had problems with Cheeriosโ€”but not my first bowl. Nah, I was lulled into complacency. I hadn’t had them for a while, bought a new box last year, had a bowl for a midnight snack… and an entire night of my *interesting* reactions to wheat ensued. The rest of the bag went in the garbage, and the unopened buy-one-get-one box went in the food pantry donation bag.

      Sad to see they haven’t figured it out in 7 years. Or, more accurately, don’t care to.

  19. You’re awesome, GD. Those of us who have been navigating this gluten-free life for a long time appreciate you picking up the advocate rope. The community needs people like you and others (Shirley, Tricia, Jennifer, Jules, etc.) who are in the trenches for all of us. I’m at a point where I simply don’t eat any of that stuff. It’s not worth it. I understand the difficulties. I have 2 kids with celiac, I have celiac — blah, blah, blah. But the bottom line really is about eating whole foods. Real food, not this processed stuff. Interesting that GM called their product a “nutrient-dense option.” Uh, I don’t think so. And that run-around BS about dietary issues and celiac disease. Like you said, just corporate mumbo-jumbo. These people have no clue how knowledgeable the GF community is. Hang in there, GD. You’re fighting the good fight and we appreciate it!

    1. I agree the only way to be sure is to eat whole food that you prepare yourself.
      Cross contamination can only happen if the contaminant is in or near the preparation area and who really cares, but the person who is going to pay the consequences.

      Thanks Again Mr Dude!

  20. I have eaten Honey Nut Cheerios since I was a kid. (I was diagnosed with Celiac at 18 months) and I will continue eating Honey Nut Cheerios.

    1. Lydia

      I know a good oncologist who gave my Mom the same advice to keep eating anything she wanted until the chemo started killing Mom more than the cancer and was stopped. Then With my help and encouragement Mom tried strictly no gluten after 17 yrs of 3 different times of Stage 4 B cell Mantle Cell Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. Now all the tumors are gone and Mom’s been cancer free for going on 2 yrs.

      Mom ate anything she wanted all of her life until the metastatic abdominal lymphoma almost killed her. I hope your diet and genes don’t turn on you, but if they do, it may never be too late to try strictly no gluten. Good luck with your current plans.

  21. I heard about the recall after trying Cheerios last month and getting sick. I kept the box for reference too, so I checked it and the box I purchased is not part of the recall. This tells me their reason is a bunch of BS, and for the record I can eat actual certified GF oats like Bob’s Red Mill, so another reason they are idiots. Why not just make a separate product with certified GF oats and be transparent about it?

  22. I would appreciate it very much if you can remove our photo from your blog post as I don’t think you are adding any value by doing that. While our family is in the commercials, we still aren’t public figures. I suffer the same way as many Celiacs do and the heart of our story and our life remain true no matter what is currently going on with Big G. Thank you so much for your consideration.

  23. Long time reader, first time commenter… I’m from Lodi, CA where the General Mills plant is located. They announced almost a year ago they would be closing this small production plant due to their falling profits. The news greatly affected our small town. Anyway, I find it a little too convinient they’re pinning this on that particular plant. Maybe it is their fault…. But considering how they’ve treated this whole debacle, It seems profits were hurting so “hey let’s make a run for the GF label and see if that boosts sales! Oh crap, that didn’t work. That’s ok, let’s throw the lodi plant under the bus since we’re closing it soon anyway, it’ll be a good PR excuse when we close it down.” but what do I know, I’m just another celiac trying to make it in the world ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m not one for conspiracies… Just thought the coincidence with the Lodi plant was too much to not share.

    1. They are closing other plants too. The large one in West Chicago, Ill is being closed and has been in operation since the 60’s.

  24. I commented in reply to one of GD’s previous GF Cheerios update that GM’s testing methods were questionable and that practically any STEM undergraduate student could recognise this. Kudos to GD, and to Tricia at GFWD who have been among the leading voices of skepticism on this file. For GM the chickens have come home to roost. They should never have released this product without proper sampling to ensure its integrity and I’m completely baffled why they thought their sampling techniques would be valid.

    If they can’t get their act together on this then GF Cheerios may (and really should) go the way of GF Rice Krispies (which is to say, discontinued).

  25. I hadn’t even checked my email and saw this until NOW. AFTER I tweeted you earlier.
    I hate GM with their woeful ignorance.
    What do I hate worse? Nature’s Path…. I made THAT mistake last year and paid dearly for MY woeful ignorance.
    We have to remain vigilant in reading those labels. One of my dearest friends is always bringing me gluten-free foods he sees at the Target he works at part-time.
    Problem, friends? He sees the front with the big emblazoned words “GLUTEN FREE” and buys them. And there is often a hidden goodie like “Malt” or “Barley” or “Wheat Dextrin”. I don’t even Google it, I tell him to take it back, or eat it himself. (He’s NOT gluten intolerant). I don’t even play those games. I feel too good WITHOUT gluten to let it back in, and it infuriates me that these big corporations continue to play these games with people’s health. We just have to continue our due diligence.
    Thanks for profiling these instances, Gluten Dude. I RT whatever you post, and will continue to do so. If I can enlighten even one person a day, I feel like someone will feel less like crap.

  26. So very well said, GD. So many of our new questions remain unanswered, although I am pretty sure that we can guess the answers to most of them and that General Mills will not be forthcoming with their own answers. Despite the recall, their reps are still saying online that “each and every box” tests to less than 20 ppm and we test “all boxes.” Oh, yeah, except for those 1.8 million boxes. And still, today, the GM rep responding to comments on GM’s latest blog post (the post with the apology from the President of the Big G Cereals) is pointing a finger at folks reporting illness who did not get a box from the recalled lots saying that they might have a sensitivity to oats, etc.

    I think this recall is just the tip of the iceberg. They don’t get it and they won’t get it, and I simply don’t understand why so many others in the gluten-free community are continuing to defend GM and, far worse, continuing to eat these products and give them to their innocent children. I’m not being melodramatic on the latter. The reports of illness of children from these products are some of the worst and heartbreaking to read.

    Thank you for continuing to be one of the few remaining good guys in the gf community and saying what needs to be said!

  27. Just out of curiosity, Dude, what was GM’s repsonse back when you visited them, about why they didn’t use certified gluten-free oats and clean facility in the first place, rather than their wacky “removing gluten from the glutened-oats”? I can’t for the life of me think that it’s really cheaper to process them (further than processed oats are already processed, for heaven’s sake!) and then have to test them (mean or not) all the time, than to just buy them gluten-free. Not to mention all the research that went into this “removing gluten” process, which must have been pretty pricey. Celiacs already bear the brunt of increased $$ for truly gluten-free foods, what’s a few more cents per box?

    1. This question came up quickly when GM announced this initiative several months ago and the answer is simple: there simply aren’t enough pure GF oats being grown to meet the demands called for by GM’s production levels, let alone the demands of all the other companies who also need them thrown in on top of that.

        1. I just read your recent FB post about the article wherein it states that Bob’s Red Mill now uses (in addition to certified oats) oats that are mechanically separated, a la General Mills presumably, for some of their oat products that they market as GF. I wonder if this is a case much like GM, of BRM’s business having grown to the point where there are no longer enough certified oats available to them to meet customer demand?

  28. Dude you write so eloquently. Great job

    Doesn’t this prove beyond a doubt that general mills testing is bogus! These boxes made it into the hands and stomachs of consumers in spite of the current testing protocol. If that testing was of any value, nearly 2 million boxes being made with wheat flour should have tested not gluten free – shouldn’t they?

  29. Being from New Zealand it’s been interesting for me watching this story unfold. In NZ & Australia food safety standards don’t allow oats to be classified as gluten free not only because of the high degree of cross contamination but also to protect those who may cross react to avenin (the protein similar to gluten that’s found in oats). We also have tougher standards of measurement for what constitutes gluten free. Instead of 20ppm, all gf labelled products must contain ‘no detectable gluten’, which means the lowest possible amount that can be tested for – currently 3ppm. Although I am Coeliac, I’m not super sensitive and don’t often experience sickness from accidental gluten exposure and I always thought that perhaps the standards here were too tough. But in watching the Cheerio debacle play out, seeing how many people have been getting sick and the questionable processes that GM seem to be able to get away with, I’m actually now very grateful to live somewhere where this type of thing is taken so seriously.

    1. That is sadly true. The US has “Big 8” allergen list, while most other countries have 14. There is a growing disparity in Food Safety legislation worldwide, most notably around allergens.

      Many global companies actually have separate formulations for the same product based on which region they’re selling to… and what is considered to be in the safe/legal limits.

  30. I am soooo glad I took the wait and see approach to this. I am so sensitive to gluten that even being in the same room where gluten is in the air causes me discomfort. This sounds to me like GM was hoping to get in on the gluten free money opportunity and figured that people really don’t get sick from just a bit. Sorry Cheerios, you’re out of the game for me. AND because you did this, I will no longer buy your product for my gluten eating husband. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!! Thanks Gluten Dude for your hard work!

  31. As a parent this whole debacle makes me both really sad and really angry. My 8 year is the only diagnosed Celiac in our house…his grandparents try hard to make sure they are feeding him right without making him sick and this, THIS is the kind of crap that makes it so they inadvertently make him sick!

    Not to mention my 8 year old was excited to be able to eat Cheerios again and was devastated when he found out they weren’t safe for him to eat. He doesn’t get cereal very often but he loved the multigrain cheerios when he was little before he was diagnosed. It isn’t bad enough that he misses out on so many food related things with his friends, this is just adding to that pile. Thanks GM, he’s already super angry that he has this disease….thanks for making it that much harder for him, seriously.

  32. Thank you for continuing to advocate on this issue. It would be easier to buckle, to take money from them, to tell the story as they would like it instead of in the manner that protects the gluten-free community. I doubt we will ever know the enormity of this mess but also know it is only because of a handful of advocates that anything is being done.

  33. Thank you so much for this excellent article.
    Any other fellow Celiacs want to create a lawsuit against General Mills? Any lawyers out there?โ€จ
    I don’t care about getting my $7 back for a couple of cereals. โ€จWhen I ate this cereal I felt it and it screwed up my intestines.

  34. GD-


    I was so sick two weeks ago. Flashback to Jersey Girl youth loving my O’s. Had to get the GF ones from GM. Two morning in a row. I nearly f-ing lost my mind. Jersey Guy tried to cheer me up by buying me…….wait for it…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Nature’s Path cereal. AUUUUUGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

    Jersey Girl

    Kirk: Khan, you bloodsucker! You’re gonna have to do your own dirty work now! Do you hear me? Do you?
    Khan Noonien Singh: Kirk! You’re still alive, my old friend!
    Kirk: Still –“old friend!” You’ve managed to kill just about everyone else, but like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target!
    Khan: Perhaps I no longer need to try, Admiral. [beams up Genesis components]
    Kirk: Khan . . . Khan, you’ve got Genesis, but you don’t have me! You were going to kill me, Khan; you’re going to have to come down here! You’re going to have to come down here!
    Khan: I’ve done far worse than kill you. I’ve hurt you. And I wish to go on . . . hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me. As you left her. Marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead planet . . . buried alive . . . [voice drops to a menacing whisper] . . . buried alive.
    Kirk: [exploding with rage, able to stand no more] KHHHHAAAAAAAAN!!!

  35. I am no longer buying ANYTHING made by GM. This means no more Annie’s products in my home. (Mostly the fruit juice gummies.) But it also means the Immaculate baking co. (We occassionally liked to make their GF Choc chip cookies.) Before this Cheerios mixup I was buying my son their GF labeled Chex oatmeal. He has never been sick eating this product. BUT I thought it was very interesting that today, when I went to the store to get him more of this oatmeal, it was labeled “Close Out”. Do you think that GM is pulling back on evrything labeled GF now?

    1. And my kids had the Cheerios when they first came out GF. They didn’t get gut sick, but were fatigued and very irritable. So I’d say that was a reaction!
      QUESTION: Did any majot celiac org sign off on Cheerios? NFCA, GIG, CDF?

  36. Oh, I am SO bummed out. When I ate that first bowl of GF cheerios with bananas and strawberries all I could say was “this is better than cake!” I think I have to have a funeral with taps playing when I throw the rest of the box away…..

  37. I knew something was not right. I ate one bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios and within 10 minutes the bloating and pain began. I’m so disappointed in GM for their late response to this scenario. I could have avoided a sleepless night and subsequent fatigue that lasted for 2 days. I will not be eating them again. Now what do I do with the giant double pack I bought at BJ’s?

    1. Please report your reaction to the FDA, even if the box you ate from was part of the recall. They need to know who many people were adversely affected. You can reach the FDA’s MEDWATCH system, the Adverse Event Reporting System, at (800) 332-1088 (choose option #4) or online I won’t share the link as I don’t want this comment to be marked as spam, but if you Google “FDA’s MEDWATCH System” it will come up.

      You could also choose to take your boxes back to the store and tell the manager why you won’t be eating these Cheerios . I’m sure s/he will give you your money back and, hopefully, s/he’ll also see there’s a serious problem with these products.


  38. Donate it to a local food shelter. Just be sure to cross of the gluten-free part on the box. If you can’t donate it, burn it ๐Ÿ˜‰

  39. I wouldn’t trust any of the Cheerios varieties at this point. And I’m not sure the recall is working completely or how they determine whom to notify. I was at Whole Foods today and saw several boxes of the regular and Honey Nut, GF labeled. I asked them if they knew about the recall and they said they knew nothing about it.

  40. Tried the “safe” boxes of Cheerios. Got gluten’d. Stopped eating the “GF” Cheerios. Got better. The GF Cheerios are not safe for celiacs. Too bad I fell for it.

    1. Same here. I tried a supposedly “safe” box of Honey Nut Cheerios. Not in the range of the recall dates AND produced at a different facility, according to the code on the box. And I still got sick. Which means the GF Cheerios aren’t as GF as General Mills would like people to believe, even the ones that weren’t part of the “isolated incident” with the wheat trucks. My advice to anyone who’s tempted…just don’t.

  41. After a visit to a local grocer the other day, I see these GF Cheerios have made their way into Canada (at least for the yellow box variety, not sure about any others). No idea what the initial timeline was on their original international rollout schedule before this recall was triggered but seeing them here barely two months later seems like a short time to me.

    I was just searching online for info on how the recall would have affected this and came across this not-really-related article (link below) but thought it was still worth sharing. Kind of long but it mentions about halfway through, some US-Cdn differences in food labelling laws. This isn’t apropos to the Cheerios issue but apparently up here we don’t allow “low gluten” or “reduced gluten” types of claims. The photo gallery atop the article shows an example of such a product, corn meal, made for the US market โ€” one which also happens to include a “may contain traces of wheat” disclaimer (!). And this is supposedly after the new FDA laws came into effect last year? The article was only written less than a month ago.

  42. Wow…..I found your post by googling “glutened by Cheerios”. Long story made short-recently diagnosed, now gluten free mother and 8 yr old daughter in a family of seven. While mourning our loss of Fresh baked bread and cookies , we celebrate finally feeling good and not dealing with all the health issues of before. I diligently scour labels and search for ways to make our favorites “gluten free”. My daughter was so excited when she saw the box of one of her favorite cereals (Honey nut Cheerios) say Gluten-Free. We brought them home and quickly tore into them, all was well. Next week, same store, new box, after the second day I suffer from symptoms of being glutened and my husband says “could it be something you have eaten” “No, I haven’t eaten anything different”, I say. Day three…happens again following breakfast, then after lunch I’m not feeling well so I grab a handful of Cheerios to settle my stomach and Whamo! That was all it took…..definitely the Cheerios! So beware all celiacs and gluten sensitive folks out there, I am a witness that not all boxes of Cheerios are created equal!

    1. I made the same mistake as you, bought 2 boxes around the end of November. Seem to have make it through the first box alright, but the second box , wham-O!! I’m currently on my back out of commission, an absolute mess. Worst gluten hit in years!!! I’m furious with General mills. It’s the only thing I changed in my diet also, so it’s definitely them. I’ve been in contact with the FDA and it seems they are aware of the issues. A lot of people are going to get sick on these, it’s playing russian roulette with your health. Shame on general mills. I believe there should be a class action lawsuit.

  43. Recently we purchased a box of Cheerios. I had a box and I was fine. I have been feeling great for weeks. I ate a small bowl this afternoon for the first time out of that box. BOOM! I’m having trouble. I’ll let my family finish this box and I won’t be buying GM cereals for me again. How many days will I pay for this?not worth it. I trusted them. Stupid me.

  44. Bioterrorism. One of these days, someone like myself will be in a position of power to go after the companies who are lying and charge them with bioterrorism. That’s exactly what they are guilty of doing, knowingly supplying the public with tainted (poisoned) foods they know will hurt people. It’s bioterrorism, folks. It’s not a mistake, not a booboo, not an error, not a slip up, or anything else. Bioterrorism.

  45. Nonsense on stilts. Terrorism is the use of violence or threats of violence to frighten people and thus influence political behavior (and yes, the violence could be poisoning).

    There is no intent to frighten people here.

    There are lots of bad things in the world, but labeling them as terrorism when they are not is counterproductive.

  46. I’m just waiting for the day I hear the distinguished non-attorney spokesperson say, “If you have Celiac disease and have been victim of a mis-leading nutritional labels you may be entitled to compensation.”

  47. Hey Gluten Dude, I am citing to your article for a law review article I am writing about how the gluten-free labeling regulation is flawed for not having a testing requirement. Hope that’s okay! Thank you for what you do for our celiac community, from a fellow celiac!

  48. I knew It each time I ate Cheerios I would throw it up immediately. I even called them and I was told no Gluten in Cheerios. Lies all lies.

  49. Just threw up after eating gluten free cheerios…. I didnt put two and two together and this is the third time in the past few months that I became violently sick after eating them..I am not eating them ever again and am looking for a recourse on what to do..

  50. The solution is simple “do not eat ANY gluten”, only the symptoms of the celiac world are complex! I’ve had to educate my doctors, they’re not knowledgeably trained about on gluten issues AT ALL. My sister is celiac, myself and my daughter are gluten sensitive. I eat oats that I carefully pick out and keep away from General Mills products. Thank you for this article, my temptations towards Cherrios are put to rest.

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didnโ€™t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, Iโ€™ve done my job.

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