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Cheerios recall: 1.8 million boxes marked ‘gluten-free’ may contain wheat

Cereal giant General Mills has issued a huge recall of 1.8 million boxes of Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios — cereals that were labeled gluten-free, but actually weren’t.

The large recall encompasses a huge number of boxes, but it only involves one particular plant in Lodi, California, and boxes that were produced over a period of 13 days in July. During production of the affected boxes, wheat flour was inadvertently introduced into the oat flour system due to human error.

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This resulted in an undeclared allergen (wheat) in these particular boxes of cereal, which can cause illness to those allergic to wheat, as well as those with celiac disease. An allergic reaction could include hives, nasal congestion, swelling of the lips or tongue, breathing difficulties, cramps, diarrhea or vomiting.

In those with celiac disease, consuming gluten (a component of wheat) can damage the lining of the stomach and small intestine, resulting in severe pain, diarrhea (or alternatively, constipation), nausea and vomiting (as well as other problems). Those with gluten intolerance have similar symptoms.

To see if your box is included in the recall, look for these codes that follow the words, “BETTER IF USED BY.”

Honey Nut Cheerios:

  • 12JUL2016LD
  • 13JUL2016LD
  • 14JUL2016LD
  • 15JUL2016LD
  • 16JUL2016LD
  • 17JUL2016LD
  • 18JUL2016LD
  • 20JUL2016LD
  • 21JUL2016LD
  • 22JUL2016LD
  • 23JUL2016LD
  • 24JUL2016LD
  • 25JUL2016LD

Yellow box (original) Cheerios: 

  • 14JUL2016LD
  • 15JUL2016LD
  • 16JUL2016LD
  • 17JUL2016LD
Boxes marked with different dates and facility codes are not affected, and if you have no problems eating or digesting wheat, then this recall does not affect you.

If you do have a wheat allergy, are intolerant of gluten or have celiac disease, do not consume Cheerios from the affected dates and contact General Mills at 1-800-775-8370.

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This recall is especially troubling because General Mills has been working for years to retool their Cheerios recipe to completely exclude gluten, and many were thrilled to be able to try out their new gluten-free Cheerios once they hit store shelves this summer. Unfortunately, soon after people began chowing down, many reported that they felt sick after trying some, and recently, the FDA has shown an interest in finding out if the supposedly gluten-free Cheerios were actually gluten-free.

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Hopefully the company will recover from this incident and can regain the trust of those who relied on them for food that wouldn’t make them sick.

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