The Gluten-Free Cheerios Deception

Sign the petition here to help us ensure that gluten-free labeled Cheerios really means gluten-free for all.

If Cheerios made you sick, please go here and follow the information given by Tricia Thompson to report to the FDA.

Does the Celiac Disease Foundation really have our best interests at heart now that they are being sponsored by Cheerios?

Does the Celiac Disease Foundation really have our best interests at heart now that they are being sponsored by Cheerios?

You are being deceived.

All the bloggers sharing the news about General Mills’ gluten-free Cheerios are feeding you what you want. You see the headlines about the new Cheerios and gloss over their statements of, “This is what Gluten-Free Watchdog has to say. You’ll have to decide for yourself.”

Yes, we all have to decide for ourselves, but that little statement they make in the midst of their shiny happy posts gets lost on so many people. If you catch it, you might think, “Oh, yeah, cool. I have the power” and you most certainly do. What it’s really there for is to serve as a CYA clause. Haven’t heard of a CYA clause? That’s the fancy legal jargon for cover your ass. I’m not kidding. It’s there so you can’t eat the Cheerios, get sick, and go back to them accusing them of steering you wrong. They can point to it and say, “Caveat emptor.” They get to wipe their hands of the mess.

Those who are sharing the posts from The Gluten-Free Watchdog, either haven’t read Tricia’s posts or read them and choose to ignore the facts. Because how can you have that information, disseminate it to others and then comment, “I wonder why that is” when someone leaves a comment on their post or page, reporting they got sick. If they have to ask that, something is very wrong. To have Tricia’s information and not know the answer is incomprehensible to me. There is no mea culpa with them.

Erin Smith of Gluten-Free Fun recently shared her phone call with General Mills marketing representatives in this post. The insistence that the product is gluten-free when the sourced oats are not grown under a purity protocol is ridiculous. All of us blogging and advocating for the gluten-free community should know that this is an immediate red flag. Oats are naturally gluten-free, but they come into contact with wheat, barley, and rye in the growth, harvesting, and transportation and they can NEVER be truly gluten-free because of this. The marketing of this cereal to the gluten-free community as being safe, the lack of transparency, and the excuses for why people are getting sick (rather than accepting responsibility) violates the American Marketing Association’s Statement of Ethics.

Every box of Cheerios you open and pour into your bowl is a gamble with your health. There’s no way to ensure that all the gluten is removed in this process. How is this better than sourcing oats that are grown under purity protocol? One is gluten-light while the other is gluten-free. Someone used “mitigate” to explain (and defend) what General Mills is doing with gluten-free Cheerios. That word right there should tell you everything you need to know. To mitigate means to make something less severe, serious, or painful or to lessen the gravity of an offense or mistake. Everything done in the production of this cereal is a mitigation, not a true production of a gluten-free product. There is no way to mitigate the effects the cereal has had on our community though. The damage is done.

Would you gamble with your life and drink one or all of these knowing there is a high risk that one or more contains poison, but you wouldn't be able to tell until after the fact?

Would you gamble with your life and drink one or all of these knowing there is a high risk that one or more contains poison, but you wouldn’t be able to tell until after the fact? Would you allow your child to?

Do you still want to eat these Cheerios? Yes? Let me ask you this, would you accept a salad at a restaurant that forgot to leave out the croutons and you can see from the visible crumbs that they picked them off? Would you take chips from a bowl after people eating sandwiches/pizza/etc. just stuck their hands into? Would you drink Omission beer? Would you drink from one or more of those shot glasses in the photo, blindfolded, knowing only that each one contains a colorless, odorless liquid? Maybe they’re all water. Maybe some are water and some are poison. Maybe only one is poison. Maybe they’re all poison. Would you take that risk? Would you allow a loved one to chance it? I don’t know about you, but I’m not Westley and I’m not immune to Iocane or gluten.

There is an unprecedented amount of people in our community getting sick from gluten-free labeled Cheerios. Instead of compassion for these people who mostly likely didn’t know how the cereal was being processed or tested, I’m seeing gaslighting and condescension. “I didn’t get sick so it’s not a problem.” “Some people with Celiac can’t tolerate gluten-free oats.” “You should only eat organic, unprocessed foods.” These are the same people who won’t support the Change.org petition even though this is a community-wide issue and could affect how Big Food does gluten-free processed foods in the future if General Mills is allowed to get away with this. I’m reading comments from people who reported to General Mills that they got sick and got responses that every box is below 20ppm or “that’s unusual.” Gaslighting when they could be giving callers a simple apology and assurance that they are working on it.

Food giants like General Mills only have one thing they care about. They want profits. They only did this mass change of Cheerios because they thought it could increase their declining sales. If you think they care about you, ask yourself why they didn’t pull this from the shelves voluntarily when they started getting call after call from consumers who had gotten sick. Or go back further in the timeline and ask yourself why they didn’t do this right from the get go.

“People are actually walking away from cereal because they are avoiding gluten,” says Mr. Murphy. At a time when cereal sales, including Cheerios, are weak, “we can’t afford that.”

Cheerios Will Now Really Be ‘Gluten-Free’, The Wall Street Journal website. Posted February 11, 2015

If you’re reading blog posts and comments on said posts and on social media, the same people saying Cheerios are safe and cheerleading for them are using the same excuses for people getting sick as General Mills gave Erin on the call. As bloggers, we all have a responsibility to our audience and not turn a blind eye to this situation and any others like it.

Advocating for celiac disease and the gluten-free community is #1 priority for those of us promoting ourselves as “authorities” and “experts” in this field. We cannot ignore the number of individuals becoming ill from this product and we must pull together, tell the truth and demand change from General Mills.

Gigi Stewart, petition comment used with permission

We’re supposed to be looking out for each other and we’re not. Gluten-free magazines are taking ad money from Cheerios when their product is clearly not produced in a manner that is safe for us. They are sponsoring the Celiac Disease Foundation, a resource I’m sure many of us turned to in our early days of going gluten-free.  I will not be renewing my subscriptions for any gluten-free magazine, using or referring other people to resource, or attending any gluten-free conferences that are taking money from General Mills. In my opinion, they have compromised their integrity much like the NFCA did with Domino’s.

Someone commented that I shouldn’t have started the petition because I didn’t try the Cheerios. Why would I try them when I had enough information to know they aren’t safe? Why do I need to try them to see our entire community is at risk here? When I was still in the mental health field advocating for the well-being of my clients, I didn’t need to be abused by their abusers to do so. I don’t have to experience something to know that wrong is being done.

I have nothing to lose by advocating for our community. Nothing. I should be working on my next novel and instead I’m fighting an uphill battle with like-minded bloggers because everything about this situation is shady. There are people in our community who don’t have our resources, who don’t have access to the internet and this information. They are buying the cereal, trusting in the gluten-free label. I cannot, in good conscience, let it keep happening.

Our community needs products they can trust. Celiac/gluten-sensitivity doesn’t care about socioeconomic status. Not everyone who needs to be gluten-free can afford to eat organic, unprocessed foods. There is a need for cheaper more accessible processed gluten-free foods for those who are on public assistance. Some kids may be on the spectrum and for them, their cereal is a sensory issue and they know when their parents try to switch brands on them. This isn’t about one diet being the right diet. We all eat gluten-free and do so differently, but it has to be safe. We rely on the new labeling regulations to keep us safe and trust manufacturers to do right. This is not happening here and it’s why General Mills needs to change the way they do gluten-free Cheerios.

We need to stop gambling for the sake of our community. Hundreds are/were glutened and the reports that seemed endless on social media are what prompted me to start the petition because we deserve better. We deserve to know that if we pick up something labeled gluten-free, that the company is processing and testing it properly to ensure our safety. We deserve to buy something for a loved one, knowing the look of glee on their face won’t change to one of pain.

We deserve better than the rhetorical, deceptive bullshit being served to us.

 

Gluten Free Watchdog Cheerios News:

Manufacturer Use of Regular Oats in Gluten-Free Foods

General Mills “Gluten-Free” Cheerios

More thoughts on gluten-free Cheerios

Gluten-Free Cheerios: Take Two

Gluten-Free Cheerios: Take Three

Updated Position on Gluten-Free Cheerios

Sick After Eating Gluten-Free Cheerios?

 

My previous posts:

Pissing In The Gluten-Free Cheerios

Effecting Change

 

Gluten-Free Homemaker

Gluten-Free Cheerios: Safe or Not?

Gluten-Free Cheerios: Safe or Not? Part 2

 

In Johnna’s Kitchen

Five Things You Need to Know About “Gluten-Free” Cheerios

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4 comments

  1. Pingback: Five Things You Need To Know About "Gluten-Free" Cheerios - In Johnna's Kitchen

  2. Thanks so much for putting all this info as well as your thoughts out there, Debi! They are spot on. I truly appreciate that you are not mincing words here. Somehow common sense and the needs–the very health–of the gluten-free community are getting lost in the quest to eat and/or promote #notglutenfree Cheerios. That has to stop. Now.

    Shirley

  3. Pingback: Stop Eating "Gluten-Free" Cheerios | gfe--gluten free easily


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