A 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.
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.
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.
Gluten Free Watchdog Cheerios News: