General Mills has recalled 1.8 million boxes of mislabeled Cheerios, which had wrongly been packaged as gluten-free. In fact, these cereals contain wheat, which means that they cannot be consumed by people who suffer from celiac disease or gluten allergies.
This decision involves regular Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios that had been produced back in July, at a processing plant from Lodi, California.
It’s only months ago that the multinational food company gave a facelift to its beloved Cheerios brand, by introducing 5 gluten-free varieties, aside from the regular ones. General Mills had announced this revamp 8 months ago, and products which contained no wheat, barley or rye began shipping in July.
In theory, such items should not contain any allergens, because they are targeted at people who suffer from celiac disease. This autoimmune condition makes patients respond abnormally to gluten ingestion, by suffering inflammation of the small intestine’s inner lining.
However, it appears that in the manufacturing process, wheat floor actually entered the “gluten-free oat flour system”, due to “purely human error”. Following this incident, Cheerios boxes were mistakenly labeled as gluten-free, and shipped to retailers. The “undeclared allergen” poses a risk to consumers with celiac disease, and as a result the voluntary recall had to be issued.
“We sincerely apologize to the gluten-free community and to anyone who may have been impacted”, declared Jim Murphy, senior vice president of General Mills’ cereal division.
As representatives have detailed, the Honey Nut Cheerios boxes affected by this contamination had been produced over a 13-day period, and have “Better if used by” dates ranging between July 12, 2016 and July 25, 2016.
The original Yellow Box Cheerios had been packed during a 3-day period, and their “Better if used by” dates are between July 14, 2016 and July 17, 2016. Aside from these expiration dates, the products included in the recall can also be identified by the code “LD”, which refers to the factory’s location (Lodi, California).
General Mills has ordered to have these contaminated boxes removed from supermarkets and warehouses, so as not to cause any health problems to people who suffer from wheat allergies or celiac disease. Customers who have bought these food items can contact the manufacturers for a replacement or a refund.
As company officials have noted, Cheerios boxes produced in other processing plants are not subject to this recall. Moreover, other Cheerios varieties such as Multi Grain Cheerios, Apple Cinnamon Cheerios and Frosted Cheerios are also safe to consume.
About 1% of the total number of Cheerios boxes produced in a year have been affected by this incident. According to financial analysts, this may cause reputational damage to the brand, as consumers become less trusting of the company’s new products.
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