Cheerios Petition v2.0

CheeriosA couple of weeks ago, a new petition on the not-so-gluten-free Cheerios was brought to my attention. It was started by Jonathan Schwartz, father of a young son with allergies who had a reaction that resulted in being taken to the hospital by ambulance last year. This is by no means the first case of a child ending up in the hospital because Cheerios are not gluten-free. If you recall, the mother of a boy whose son was hospitalized at the time she signed the petition, had no idea that the Cheerios was not truly gluten-free and he had been eating it even while in the hospital, which gave her the explanation about why he was not improving under medical care. I don’t know what happened to that boy or his mom, but their story and that of Jonathan’s son are ones I wanted to prevent when I started the first petition in 2015.

This new petition has gained a lot of signatures in a short amount of time. I messaged with Jonathan to lend him my support and discuss how timing likely has a lot to do with the signatures on the petition so far (as I’m writing this, the petition has nearly three thousand signatures.

We know that thousands had gotten sick from Cheerios labeled gluten-free by the time the first petition had been up for a year. We have this information thanks to the work of Johnna Perry of In Johnna’s Kitchen and Shirley Braden of gluten-free easily collecting reports not only on the petition but on social media as well. If all this is new to you, this is the heat sink map that Johnna created from the reports.

Cheerios heat sink map 92915

Heat sink map of 169 illness reports from “gluten-free” Cheerios on the Change.org petition as of 9/29/15. Note how the majority of reports are on the opposite side of the country as the Lodi plant and that this was BEFORE the recall. Map by In Johnna’s Kitchen, used with permission.

While Cheerios did a voluntary recall, claiming oats were transported on a non-gluten-free train to the Lodi plant, the reports are mostly clustered on the East Coast that would’ve received boxes from plants closer than Lodi.

Cheerios 3

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

One issue that I still see as a problem is the continuation of our advocacy groups taking money from General Mills and not protecting us the way the Canadian Celiac Association did when they advocated for and successful in the removal of the label on Cheerios in Canada. We have yet to see any of our advocacy agencies do the same here in the U.S. It’s infuriating that the Celiac Disease Foundation still has their name on boxes of Cheerios that continue to make those with Celiac and NCGS sick. Remember back in 2012 when the NFCA certified Domino’s gluten-free pizza crusts despite not having separate prep area, meaning it would go down the same line as all pizzas with utensils and toppings that have come into contact with gluten. Alice Bast only walked back the certification after pushback from the Celiac and NCGS community. The agencies haven’t gotten the same pushback on Cheerios. The agencies, bloggers, and magazines are only too happy to align themselves with a product that has shown time an again through reports of illness and scientific testing (thanks to Tricia Thompson of Gluten-Free Watchdog) that it is not a safe product.

I encourage you to sign Jonathan’s petition so we can do what the agencies that are supposed to protect us won’t do, get the gluten-free label removed from Cheerios. I ask that you share it with others who will sign even if they aren’t gluten-free. You don’t have to experience something to help advocate for change. You can follow Jonathan on Twitter here.

I would also encourage you to stop donating to the advocacy agencies if you are until they start working for what’s best for us and not their bottom line. There is no point in having an advocacy agency that won’t advocate. Also, stop subscribing to gluten-free magazines that take ad dollars from General Mills. Boycott General Mills and confront gluten-free bloggers who are doing positive posts for Cheerios. Remember that purity protocol oats are the only safe oats for those with Celiac, NCGS, and wheat allergies. You can find a list of suppliers and manufacturers of purity protocol oats here.

IF YOU HAVE HAD A REACTION to a product labeled gluten-free, do NOT throw away the packaging. Please contact FDA’s MEDWATCH, the Adverse Event Reporting System to report it. You can do this online https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/index.cfm… or via phone (800) 332-1088. Choose option #4 to speak to a representative. Please make sure you pass this on to anyone else who will find it helpful. We don’t have to accept products on the market that companies are making under mediocre conditions because it’s better for their bottom line than it is for our HEALTH.

There are over a million of us with Celiac and NCGS, if we work together and have those not in our community supporting us, we can effect change.

 

Previous posts:

Effecting Change

The Gluten-Free Cheerios Deception

The State of Gluten-Free Advocacy

Trust Your Gluten-Free Oats & Support a Gluten-Free Farm

 

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?

Why mechanically and optically sorted “gluten-free” oats continue to keep me up at night

Effecting Change

Cheerios

Please sign and share the petition on Change.org.

We are divided.

On one side of the gluten-free community who have gotten sick from the so-called gluten-free Cheerios, those who have seen them get sick and are refraining from trying them, and those who are aware of the processes and testing General Mills is employing and refuse to go near them.

The other side of the gluten-free community are those who have eaten the so-called gluten-free Cheerios without overt symptoms and those who have been compensated in one way or another to be cheerleaders for gluten-free Cheerios and are leading unsuspecting people into the the void.

You cannot ignore the reports of all the people who have said they have gotten sick when my post Pissing In The Gluten-Free Cheerios was shared on Facebook or on the Change.org petition I started. It’s there, in black and white. This is a high rate of reporting on something labeled gluten-free.

You would think that with all these reports, there would be more compassion from the community as a whole. That we would unite to make sure more of us in the gluten-free community don’t get sick.

Right?

I’ve seen comments from those who ate the gluten-free Cheerios, say they didn’t react, then wonder why people are upset. Or they are asymptomatic and say they’ll keep eating them.

Did we all forget that lack of symptoms doesn’t mean no reaction? That lack of symptoms could mean gluten is doing silent damage to your body? That enough silent reactions could lead to bigger health problems down the line?

How about those who are being rewarded by General Mills? The ones who  were flown up there and have been singing gluten-free Cheerios praises ever since?

Many of us got into blogging to share our stories and recipes. We do it without pay or any type of compensation. Eventually, some find sponsors who compensate the bloggers for their posts in favor of their product(s). I think there are only a handful of bloggers who can walk the line of advertising a product and maintaining the integrity of their blog.

Yes, I said integrity.

If you have integrity, how can you keep cheering on a product like gluten-free Cheerios and encouraging people to buy it when so many are falling ill?

As a former advocate in the mental health field, seeing wrong and wanting to make it right comes naturally. When a vice-principal sits across from me telling me he’s sure another student isn’t bullying my client because “he wouldn’t do something like that” when I know my client would lie to me, I don’t sit there and say, “Okay, if you say so.” No. I tell him he better take care of the situation or if I get another report of bullying from my client, I’ll make sure it will be the last.

Integrity, once lost, is hard to regain. Those of you beholden to General Mills need to re-evaluate what is more important: your integrity and the safety of the gluten-free community or monetary gain?

I don’t mince words. I don’t sugar coat. I don’t blow smoke. My former clients know this. While it stung being held accountable in the moment, they appreciated me because they knew my actions meant I cared.

This situation of people getting sick is unacceptable. After reading so many comments from people about their physical reaction, I started the petition. Action needed to be taken.

We need to unite. We need to stop thinking that just because “I didn’t react” that everyone else is wrong or out to get a food giant. We need to put aside personal gain and support those who are suffering.

This is a community issue and we need each other to effect change.