Cheerios Goes Gluten Free

cheerios gf

Back in 2010, General Mills changed one ingredient in their Chex cereal line. Switching from malt to molasses, GM launched Rice Chex as gluten free (GF). Its success prompted the release of six more flavors.

Beginning in July of 2015, five Cheerios products will have the same great taste but will be going gluten free: Original, Honey Nut, Apple Cinnamon, Frosted, and Multi-Grain Cheerios. While Chex is made from rice and corn, Cheerios is made from oats, which is a controversial grain in the gluten free community.

Oats are controversial because they are contaminated by wheat when they are processed or transported.

Those who have celiac disease (CD) and gluten sensitivity (GS) are advised to consume only certified gluten free oats. Even then, a percentage of those with CD and GS still react against any oats. (Even certified GF oats should be carefully introduced, especially into the diet of someone newly diagnosed).

Chex instant hot oatmeal, made from gluten free WHOLE oats, was launched in 2014. There is only a limited supply of GF oats. To launch Cheerios which require a large quantity to be made into OAT FLOUR, General Mills decided to mechanically filter regular oats to eliminate cross contamination, rendering them gluten free.

General Mills is aware of the gluten free FDA labeling guidelines and are testing to ensure the standard of less than 20ppm is met. They have a great reputation as a responsible company.

While the gluten free/celiac community applauds General Mills for producing another mainstream GF cereal which costs less than some GF cereals and is more widely available, some early questions have arisen:

1. Why not a third party certification?
2. It is understood that the mechanical filtering is a competitive secret, specially developed by GM at great cost. If they can’t reveal it, why can’t they release more on the type of testing done, as well as the quantity of testing done?
3. Why can’t they use gluten free oats, developing a demand?

Of all the 5 GF Cheerios, Multi-Grain will go through the biggest reformulation. Its wheat and barley ingredients will be replaced with sorghum and millet.

What do you think about the new GF Cheerios?
Please comment!

8 thoughts on “Cheerios Goes Gluten Free”

  1. a. If they are going to be hand sorted, are they REALLY going to be gluten free? Is below 20ppm REALLY going to be safe for celiacs?

    b. How much are they charging? Is there going to be a big rate hike because “it costs more to manufacture with a GF standard?

    Sorry, I need more information before I can just decide that this is a good thing or not. For the time being, I think I’ll stick with products that I KNOW are GF.

  2. Its becoming a battleground out there for the gf$, and we will be the casualties.

    This new 20ppm rule is creating more confusion than we had in the old days when gf was poorly defined and we had to call each manufacturer to inquire about a particular product.
    I propose an food labeling amendment to the 20ppm rule: We should have “GF” and “GFR” , which stand for “gluten free” and “gluten free really”.
    This would help us to not miss step in the minefield that the supermarket is now becoming.

    1. To determine if Cheerios will be safe, the answer is possibly.
      None of us like that answer. I am waiting to see what develops.

      This is one of those things where you should read as much as you can and then make a decision. You have to answer the question—Do I trust General Mills?
      Luckily we have time before Cheerios reaches shelves.

      The best source is someone who has talked directly to General Mills and shared that talk. Her name is Tricia Thompson of Gluten Free Watchdog.
      Here is her answer:
      You may have to cut and paste the link in your browser.
      Thanks, Laurie

  3. I am overjoyed that this will come to be in the fall. I truly miss my favorite cereal, original
    Cheerios, since I was diagnosed with Celiac disease last summer.
    Thank you, General Mills!!

  4. It’s exciting to read this news. I went through a whole box of the new kellog’s gluten free special K and loved every bowlful.
    The more choices..the merrier.

  5. Guess we’ll have to wait and see. Maybe they will release more data at the time the product is introduced for sale. At this point we have lots of other cereal choices.

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