Deep down inside I knew better. I am full of guilt. I saw the reports online of folks having problems with Gluten Free Cheerios. I saw that their protocol for testing the PPM (parts per million) of gluten in the cereal wasn’t up to par. All it took was some big green eyes looking back at me sparkling saying, “These are gluten free now!! Can I try them?” I caved, and now we are paying for it.
The first box we were all fine. I call it the calm before the storm. It lured us in to the dark side of Cheerios. It got us hooked. It all went down hill with the second box, A box of
Gluten Free Honey Nut Cheerios.
The day we opened the box, my son had a bowl for breakfast. He is an 11 year old boy. His bowl of cereal is a SERIOUS bowl of cereal. That afternoon he was kinda zapped. The next morning when he walked out I remember asking him if he was ok. He was pale, and looked sick, but he insisted he was fine. Then he poured himself another bowl of Cheerios.
3 Mornings. That is how long it took for me to realize what was going on. By the 3rd morning it was bad. He was wheezing, sick to his stomach, couldn’t form a complete sentence. He just cried, but wasn’t sure why. I knew. It clicked. He had gotten gluten, and a LOT of it from somewhere. Then it hit me. Those damn Cheerios. I ran to the kitchen and pulled the box from the pantry. There wasn’t even enough left in the box for a full bowl. Between him and his sisters they had eaten the entire box.
We talked about what had happened, and he agreed that we just couldn’t buy those again. We couldn’t risk feeling like this for a breakfast cereal. The thing is General Mills isn’t testing the PPM of these properly. They are grinding several boxes of cereal together and taking an average PPM of gluten from the lot. The thing is one box might have 5 ppm, and another 50 ppm. Sure they may average out below 20 ppm, but to the person who eats that 50 ppm box ….they are going to get sick.
I contacted Cheerios via their Facebook page and got the general “Hi Amanda – I’m so sorry to hear that your son got sick. We’d like to report his experience to our quality team and make sure he is ok. Can you please give us a call at: 1-800-248-7310 between (7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. CT, weekdays) Thank you – Rosemary”
I decided to also report our ordeal to the FDA via its MEDWATCH system, the Adverse Event Reporting System. You can do this online at FDA.GOV or via phone (800) 332-1088. Choose option #4 to speak to a representative.
Something has to change. Foods should not be allowed to label themselves gluten free when people’s health is at stake. My son shouldn’t have gotten sick. I shouldn’t have purchased the cereal to begin with. I blame myself, but I blame General Mills even more for marketing a “Gluten Free” product that clearly isn’t.
Have you tried the Gluten Free Cheerios? Have you gotten sick? Share your experience in the comments.