Cheerios Recall: Gluten-Free Wheat Mix-Up Prompts General Mills To Yank 1.8 Million Boxes From Store Shelves

A Cheerios recall has been issued by General Mills. On Monday, the company recalled some of its Honey Nut Cheerios and Cheerios products, which were labeled as containing gluten-free wheat.

The General Mills Cheerios recall impacts approximately 1.8 million boxes, or 150,000 cases, of the cereal, MSN reports. The cereal was manufactured in July at the company’s Lodi, California, production facility. The Cheerios makers stated that “potential adverse health effects” could occur if individuals with celiac disease or wheat allergies ate what they thought was a gluten-free product, NewsMax reports.

General Mills is taking the recalled Cheerios from both warehouse and store shelves. The company noted in a statement that the wheat flour was “inadvertently introduced” to the gluten-free oat flour system at the California facility during an “isolated incident.” The cereal recall includes boxes or the original Cheerios brand item, which were produced over the course of four days in Lodi. The recalled Honey Nut Cheerios were produced during a 13-day span at the same plant in July.

The cereal maker said that the company is currently in the process of converting five of its Cheerios varieties into gluten-free versions of the product. The gluten-free wheat incident at the California plant reportedly occurred due to an accidental mix-up during the flour unloading process. During the July dates stated in the cereal recall notice, the Lodi facility lost rail service. The gluten-free oat flour was offloaded from the railroad shipping containers and transferred into trucks. General Mills deemed the mix-up purely an example of human error.

General Mills representative Kirstie Foster said the company has had reports of illnesses by consumers who at what they thought was gluten-free wheat, reported to the company. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.

The General Mills recall notice reads as follows.

“Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios affected have the plant code “LD.” The classic Cheerios affected have “better if used by” dates from July 14 to July 17, 2016, and the Honey Nut Cheerios have the dates July 12 to July 25, 2016.”

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can occur in “genetically predisposed people” where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine, according to Celiac.org. Approximately one in every 100 people around the world are afflicted with celiac disease. About two and one-half million Americans are reportedly at risk for long-term health conditions because they have the condition and have gone undiagnosed.

When celiac disease sufferers eat gluten, their body initiates an immune system response, which then begins an attack on the small intestine. These attacks ultimately lead to villi damage. The villi, small fingerlike projections which function as a lining inside the small intestine, promote the absorption of nutrients. When the villi become damaged, nutrients are no longer properly absorbed into the body.

Celiac disease is hereditary. Individuals with a “first-degree relative” with the gluten disorder, such as a child, sibling, or parents, stand a one in 10 chance of also developing the disease.

In 2008, General Mills launched its first gluten-free products, according to the company’s website. The food giant reportedly felt it could help those with celiac disease and wheat allergies expand their food choices and still be able to safely consume great-tasting products. The first General Mills gluten-free product was Rice Chex cereal. The company now offers more than 600 gluten-free products, including gluten-free Chex granola mix and Nestle Gluten Free Cornflakes.

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