The (Gluten-Free) Scoop on Cheerios

March 26, 2015

The (Gluten-Free) Scoop on Cheerios

National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) Vice President Jennifer North was one of 10 leaders in the celiac disease field to attend The Gluten-Free Summit, hosted by Cheerios.

National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) Vice President Jennifer North, along with ten other leaders in our field, toured the Fridley Mill, yesterday to see General Mills’ process for cleaning oats.

Big G - General Mills

This mechanical process occurs in a brand new facility built specifically for this purpose, basically sorting the grains to discard anything smaller than the perfect oat groat. This includes wheat and barley seeds, rocks and small oat groats that will be discarded to make Cheerios gluten-free. Contaminated dust, along with the hull of the oats, is collected through a process using high pressure air.

ELISA testing, performed after sorting and once the groats are milled into flour, validates that each batch meets the FDA’s standard for foods to contain less than 20 ppm of gluten to be labeled gluten-free.Welcome to Cheerios Gluten-Free Summit

General Mills and the Cheerios team have their work cut out for them as they flush and clean not only the entire mill, but also their huge grain elevators and transportation fleet of trucks and railcars. What an undertaking!

Note that the cleaned oat flour will be transported to manufacturing facilities and used on dedicated (and enclosed) lines in a non-dedicated facility.

Cheerios labeled gluten-free will begin appearing this summer with full distribution around September. It may take some stores up to a year to run through their current stock so be careful to look for the gluten-free label.

Starting in September, “yellow box,” Honey Nut, Apple Cinnamon, Frosted and Multigrain Cheerios will all be produced gluten-free.

Other interesting things to know are that the “yellow box” Cheerios will indeed be GMO-free (of particular interest to our community), Cheerios will taste exactly the same as always and there will be no price increase.

April Peveteaux of Gluten is My B****

April Peveteaux of the blog

“Gluten is my B****”

The story behind the creation of gluten-free Cheerios is quite touching. A man named Phil, who has been with Cheerios for over 50 years, started the idea of making the celiac disease safe products, because his daughter-in-law Joyce is diagnosed with the genetic autoimmune disease. Phil served as the brain power behind the creation of the original Honey Nut Cheerios. Expanding the entire line to include gluten-free alternatives meant so much to him that he even offered to use his entire 401K to personally pay for the process. General Mills, however, saw the big picture and agreed to move forward on this process. The team says that making safe gluten-free products today is just as important to them as their heart health program from the 90s.

Jennifer North and Phil

Phil with NFCA Vice President, Jennifer North

NFCA thanks General Mills for allowing us to be a part of this exciting time for Cheerios. We enjoyed learning about the process of gluten removal from oats and look forward to hearing more commentary on the topic from General Mills and gluten-free diet experts alike.

Silvana Nardone Gearing Up for the Factory Tour

Silvana Nardone of “Silvana’s
Kitchen” gearing up for the factory
tour at Fridley Mill.

Head to NFCA’s Facebook page to check out more photos from the factory.