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Marketing Muscle Has Cheerios In Trouble With FDA

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, May 13, 2009 11:13 AM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Cheerios, FDA, Living Well, Cholesterol, Cancer, Heart Disease, Processed Food, Oat Cereal

Cheerios is overpromising on its health claims says the FDA.

A cereal or a drug?




IMAGE SOURCE:   General Mills Web site 


Seizing boxes of Cheerios off store shelves? 

That is what General Mills is trying to avoid. Following a warning from the Food and Drug Administration, the company says it will fix the overpromises on the cereal’s box. 

Cheerios, the best selling cereal, claims eating it lowers cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer.  The FDA issued a warning letter May 5, that says:

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reviewed the label and labeling of your Cheerios® Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal. FDA's review found serious violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) and the applicable regulations in Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations (21 CFR). You can find copies of the Act and these regulations through links in FDA's home page at http://www.fda.gov.

“We certainly don’t have any issues with the safety of Cheerios,” Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in an interview Tuesday with Bloomberg News. “We just believe that the labeling on this particular product has gone beyond what the science supports.”

The agency has problems with the promises on the box such as:

  • Can lower your cholesterol 4% in 6 weeks
  • Did you know that in just 6 weeks Cheerios can reduce bad cholesterol by an average of 4 percent? Cheerios is…clinically proven to lower cholesterol. A clinical study showed that eating two 1 ½ cut servings daily of Cheerios cereal reduced bed cholesterol when eaten as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.”

Making these sorts of claims is reserved for drugs according to the FDA, and cannot be marked as such “without an approved new drug application”.

Making specific claims about cholesterol reduction makes the product “misbranded” says the FDA., which also takes exception to the General Mills Web site www.wholegrainnation.com.

Problems there include:

  • “Heart-healthy diets rich in whole grain foods, can reduce the risk of heart diseases.”

The Web site statement does not meet the agency’s requirements for making a health claim. Preferable is a claim that says a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fiber-containing fruit, vegetables, and grain products may reduce the risk of heart disease.  General Mills leaves out any reference to fruits and vegetables and keeping levels of saturated fat and cholesterol low.  

Cheerios was introduced to Americans in 1941, when it was called Cheeri Oats, says the General Mills Web site.

The FDA launched its probe after a complaint from the National Consumers League, a Washington-based consumer group.

General Mills had made the cholesterol claims for more than two years and the health claims have helped the marketing of Cheerios, says the CEO to Bloomberg, adding that sales rose 13 percent in the third quarter which ended in February.

The company says the science is there, but how the information is presented will be discussed with the FDA.  # 


Anonymous User
Posted by Everett
Saturday, May 30, 2009 1:45 AM EST

LOL ooh wait HAHAHAHA ARE you kidding me? FDA is the only one to be benifitcal to Health??
I'm telling everyone I know to stay away from genetically enhanced food or foods and meats from steroids and such type adjustments by ANY corp saying they are making better products.
FDA doesn't MAKE the Natural benifits of Natural foods an to think that about forcing General Mills to submit to your claim that your approved drugs can only cure people. Whats next My goodness please don't chew a piece of Birch Bark for a headache (oh thats is natures asprine) or eep dont use certian spices for dieabeties or eep don't drink a teaspoon of vinigar to help shock the pancrus to produce insulin or the list goes on. Look foods and trees are our medicine Stop bullying people to buy your stuff and not natural foods.
Hey General MILLS WOOT great job "Use Natural Be nNtural Eat naturally with Cheerios!" You can use that slogan too free of charge! Naturally!

Anonymous User
Posted by John
Friday, July 10, 2009 2:43 PM EST

Wow. The FDA is a bunch of ######. They say the only way to treat cancer is with Kimo, but my friend had breast cancer so severe, they were going to amputate. But, she resorted to this NATURAL blend of herbs and flowers, and BOOM, the cancer has gone down! I hate the fact that America is filled with a bunch of money grubbing ###### who care for lining their pockets, more than doing their jobs.

Comments for this article are closed.

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