Cheerios & G-Free Breakfasts

cheerios dsSo…it’s become clear the Cheerios thing isn’t going away on its own, so I finally decided to share my 2 cents.

Quick recap.

Cheerios announced they were going gluten-free. (YAY!)

General Mill’s Cheerios announced they were using regular oats, which studies have found always have some gluten-contamination. Rather than following the “purity protocol” for a dedicated fields and processing, they’ve got their own, special method of sorting the oats to ensure that they are gluten-free. (Okay….right? Don’t we have laws now?)

Cheerios said they were testing for gluten contamination randomly by testing “lots” versus individual boxes, which makes it easier to miss patches of contamination. (Hmmm….starting not to like this too much)

Early tests from Gluten-free Watchdog had some boxes come up above 20ppm, though most are below 20ppm.

Cheerios has declined to publicly or transparently post the testing for each box or lot. G-free advocates have visited and expressed some concerns, and not gotten clear or adequate responses.

A whole mess of reports have come in of people getting sick, and GM has done nothing but keep promoting their “gluten-free” Cheerios and talk about how happy people are with the Cheerios line. “…and the company’s cereal business unit is working on an aggressive marketing campaign to get the word out.” (Okay, now I’m officially nauseous.)

And the Celiac community has been largely quiet, despite a petition up online. Most of what I’ve seen has been along the lines of “Me/Pooky ate the Cheerios and felt fine, so clearly they’re safe.”

So…let’s be clear. Most of the boxes are Cheerios are below 20ppm. Maybe even the overwhelming majority. And it’s still totally inappropriate to put even the smallest segment of people at risk because GM doesn’t want to take the resources to verify that gluten-free means gluten-free, every single time.

Second, I’m completely shocked and appalled that a large corporation can just create their own shiny new protocol that’s not independently verified and everyone’s just cool with that. That’s a dangerous precedent, IMHO.

Gluten-Free Living just shared an article that said that the FDA is investigating the g-free claims, which is wonderful news.


  • From Gluten-free Watchdog: “If you believe you became ill after eating Cheerios, FDA is asking that you contact FDA’s MEDWATCH, the Adverse Event Reporting System. You can do this online or via phone (800) 332-1088. Choose option #4 to speak to a representative.”
  • Save the box, even an empty box–it contains important information such as the lot number, UPC code, etc.
  • Contact Cheerios (1-800-248-7310) and give them with specific information–variety of Cheerios you consumed, lot number, when you ate the product, symptoms, whether you typically tolerate gluten-free oats, etc.
  • Contact the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator They can help you file a formal complaint.

Don’t just decide Cheerios aren’t right for you. Look out for the rest of the g-free community.

So, what to eat instead? Some ideas here for pretty much any variant of a GF diet.


Highest in fiber and protein:

Especially when it gets a little cooler, hot cereals can be a wonderful breakfast. You can cook up a big pot and have it all week, and they freeze well, too.

Cooked grains choices:oatmeal

  • Buckwheat (kasha)
  • Millet
  • Amaranth
  • Teff
  • Quinoa flakes
  • Oatmeal (certified gluten free, of course)
  • Bob’s Red Mill®: Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal and Creamy Buckwheat

Making cereals healthier:

  • Add in some fresh or frozen fruit!
  • Add in ground flax or chia seed to increase fiber content.

Other options:

  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGreek yogurt with fruit and chia
  • Eggs-Add some spinach, mushrooms, onions, peppers, etc.
  • Leaner, free-range sausage or turkey bacon
  • Garden Lites muffin
  • Artisan Bistro has several options
  • Chia pods®
  • Omelet
  • Yogurt (or coconut or soy yogurt) and flax and/or fruit
  • Leftovers!
  • Breakfast smoothie: handful berries, some kind of protein (yogurt, protein powder) and a handful spinach

More and more, there are a wider range of cereal options. These are g-free, but they’re lower in protein and fiber than the ones above, so they won’t keep you as full:

  • Grits, marked gluten-free
  • Cream of rice marked gluten-free
  • Puffed rice, corn, millet, etc. marked gluten-free
  • Most Chex® Cereals (not Wheat Chex®)
  • Kashi Indigo Morning
  • Gorilla Munch®
  • Buckwheat Flakes
  • Rice Twice®

Did I miss any of your favorites?

And many thanks to Tricia Thomspon, Debi Smith, Erin Smith, Johnna, Shirley Braden and others who have taken this project on.

About Cheryl Harris

Life played a funny trick on me. I've studied nutrition for years, and much to my surprise, found out that I could manage many of my health issues via diet. I've been GF for years, and I've got a bunch of allergies and sensitivities. But it definitely doesn't keep me from cooking, baking and enjoying my food. Thanks for stopping by.
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4 Responses to Cheerios & G-Free Breakfasts

  1. Jeanne Leder says:

    Cheryl, thank you for this post! I loved Cheerios as a child and also into my adult life, until about 32 years ago, when I was told I had to avoid gluten. I MISS MY CHEERIOS! (I’ve never found a substitute that was/is as good.) So I was really excited….at first… when I heard that they were going to be made gluten free. Then I started reading about what they were actually doing, and reading what other bloggers whom I know and trust, were writing, and I started to doubt. I actually have a box of the “gluten free” Cheerios in my kitchen. It is unopened. It will not be opened in this house. It may go back to the store, or it maybe to the local food bank.

  2. Jeanne Leder says:

    I’ve been thinking about what I said concerning taking that offending box of Cheerios to the food bank…It ain’t gonna happen! That box is going back to the store!

    Thanks again for your excellent work!

  3. Sounds like a good choice, Jeanne. I hope GM gets their act together soon.

  4. Heather says:

    Hi, Cheryl,
    Thanks for reporting GM to not be aboard this. I’ve not been diagnosed, but when I’ve cut out the wheat/gluten I’ve noticed some things, that apparently few have: my teeth grow weak and brown like that of whole grain wheat; the others: dry chicken like skin [lol, though funny, but not so funny when trying to keep from scratching, the rash actually had off-color bumps], pimples on my face, and my period coming on early… though some may have their period later… However, what I am saying is: since cutting out wheat/gluten my teeth have grown stronger and my skin isn’t giving me any problems. And, though most would think “how can she know her teeth are strong or weak” I feel them with my tongue and note the different thickness, also when pushing on my teeth with my tongue they don’t feel weak. ugh! I don’t know how, my family is so in the dark… and in denial.

    Anyway, the point of this comment is: I do not miss cheerios. What I however do miss is Raisin Bran, maybe with some apples and walnuts… and maybe oats… ugh! Whatever, I don’t need gluten. I do know one thing: it’s cheaper to buy Chia seeds, coconut flour, and almond butter at the supermarket than it is from 🙂 However, can’t find the very fine grind Almond flour at the stores, Bobs Red Mills has such bad rep for a good flour, it’s more coarse Meal than flour.

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