Will Cheerios be gluten-free, for real? Maybe not.

Will Cheerios be gluten-free, for real? Maybe not.

“Recently, gluten-free blogs and Facebook sites have been atwitter with the news from General Mills that Cheerios will be labeled as gluten-free starting this summer.  Most are linking to this WSJ post, but it’s accurate to the original post from General Mills…including quotes and such.

Here’s the claim:

Basically, Cheerios are made from oats, which are technically gluten-free, though easily cross-contaminated between the farms, transport, and factories.  People with celiac disease are told to use only certified gluten-free oats, to avoid this issue, though many report no issues with non-certified oats.  So the article explains why/how Cheerios will start to be labeled as gluten-free.  “We’ve developed a way – years in the making – to sort out the small amount of wheat, rye and barley in our supply of whole oats that are inadvertently introduced at the farms where the oats were grown, or during transportation of the whole oats to the mill.”  So they aren’t going to be certified, but they’ll remove any of the cross-contamination.

I don’t really have a problem with that, though those who are incredibly sensitive are quite concerned that this isn’t good enough.  For another percentage of people, nothing is good enough and they seem to blame food companies for the fact that every single food they love isn’t made as gluten-free now.

My problem is when they were talking about the varieties of Cheerios and said this “Only Multi-Grain needed to be reformulated, because they contain wheat and barley (which will be replaced with sorghum and millet).”

I thought, hmmm, I bought some cheerios for Jenson last week.  So I grabbed the box to verify that they technically ARE already gluten-free (just at high risk for contamination), because that didn’t sound right to me.  Sure enough, the ingredient list includes “wheat starch”.  Umm, wtf General Mills?


So either they actually DO require a reformulation in order to be gluten-free, or General Mills is totally overlooking the wheat starch thing.  Either way, I’m not sure that I trust that they know what they are doing.  Even if they intend to leave out the wheat starch in the future, the press release should say something like – current formulation includes wheat starch, but that will be omitted once these are gluten-free.  It’s just confusing otherwise, because if I look at the current ingredients from a box purchased this February, it lists wheat starch.  If they aren’t changing the recipe, I can only assume they are leaving the wheat starch in.

My actual guess is that they just wanted to make this huge announcement that would rock the gluten-free world, and didn’t care about getting the details right.  It’s “gluten-free washing”, which is a term that I made up inspired by green-washing (when companies claim they are environmentally-friendly, but actually aren’t.  It’s like how something like applesauce or beans are labeled as gluten-free, when obviously they always have been.

I should also mention that I don’t really care that Cheerios are gluten-free.  I was never a big fan…they always made my stomach hurt or I felt hungry within 30 minutes.  In truth, that was probably because I didn’t know I was allergic to gluten back then and obviously Cheerios do contain gluten…but as a result, I don’t really care for them.



2 thoughts on “Will Cheerios be gluten-free, for real? Maybe not.”

  • My x-neighbor that I still keep in touch with is a big wig at General Mills. When she called to tell me about it she made certain it will be used with gf oats and be made in a dedicated area. Apparently either the CEO or someone that high up has a family full of Celiacs so they make every effort to produce things certified that his family can have. The cake mixes, chex mix, etc. I have my fingers crossed and I’m so super excited!

    • Thanks for the info! I guess they must be removed the wheat starch or using gluten-removed wheat starch. The press release was very confusing since they said no recipe change. Glad they are aware of the true needs of celiacs.

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