Marilyn Geller, head of the Celiac Disease Foundation, today weighed in on the gluten-free Cheerios recall. Following is a letter she sent to members of the gluten-free community.
For the past 25 years, Celiac Disease Foundation has fought tirelessly for the food industry to provide celiac disease patients, and those with gluten sensitivity, safe, abundant,and affordable dietary options. We were excited, therefore, that General Mills, our partner for many years in their gluten-free initiatives, asked us to share that one of America’s most iconic breakfast cereals – Cheerios – can now be safely enjoyed by people who must maintain a strict gluten-free diet. I traveled to Minneapolis this past year and listened as General Mills outlined the millions of dollars it had invested in its sourcing, manufacturing, packaging, and shipping processes to assure that, going forward, Cheerios were indeed gluten-free. Thus, you can imagine how deeply disappointed we were to learn that nearly two million boxes of Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios were being recalled by General Mills because of gluten contamination.
As the mother of a child with celiac disease, I know all too well the pain and discomfort that someone with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity might suffer if they were exposed to gluten-contaminated cereal. The consequences of accidental gluten ingestion can be devastating both physically and emotionally. Our community reports that after an accidental gluten ingestion, symptoms last an average of three days, and often result in missed work or school. We know that this recall may cause you to doubt the integrity of General Mills and, by association, CDF. We have worked hard to establish your trust of CDF. I promise you that we will work to keep it.
We fully understand and appreciate that it is our responsibility to do everything in our power to hold General Mills accountable to the celiac disease and gluten sensitive communities. In our meeting with General Mills yesterday, we were apprised of the new oat flour handling protocols and testing procedures for all finished products that have been implemented since the recall to assure that Cheerios labeled gluten-free meet the FDA standard. We expect General Mills to implement these new controls fully and continuously to earn back our community’s trust.
As we work together with General Mills, I promise to provide the latest updates on this serious issue and our ongoing response. I welcome any questions and comments.
Marilyn G. Geller, Chief Executive Officer
For more on the Cheerios recall, see our coverage here.