In July, five Cheerios products will go gluten-free including Original Cheerios, HoneyNut, Multi-Grain, Apple Cinnamon, and Frosted. Whole grain oats, the first ingredient in most of the products, is already gluten-free but can be contaminated with wheat products on farms and in transport. The food manufacturer has taken steps to remove any contamination.
General Mills says it’s been trying to find a way to eliminate the contamination risk and finally has. According to their website, “[w]e’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.”
The only product that needed to be reformulated was the Multi-Grain brand because it contained wheat and barley which will be replaced with sorghum and millet. The brands will now abide by FDA guidelines which “requires that, in order to use the term 'gluten-free' on its label, a food must meet all of the requirements of the definition, including that the food must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten."
“This is exciting news for the cereal category, probably the biggest news since our commitment to whole grain in every box,” says Jim Murphy, president of the company's Big G cereal division. “We know there are many consumers – as much as 30 percent in the U.S. – who avoid gluten. And, people are looking for more gluten-free options for cereal so it’s important that we make these five varieties of gluten-free Cheerios available.”
The original Cheerios brand also took steps to respond to consumer demand last year when it was verified GMO-free by the Non-GMO Project. The company announced it would use non-GMO corn and sugar from sugar cane rather than GMO sugar beets. The company has also responded to trends like high fiber and lower fat in the past.
“Consumer power is at the checkout,” said Iowa State University food science professor Ruth MacDonald. “It’s where the industry looks to see what’s happening.”
Related on Organic Authority
Image: Mike Mozart