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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But if you are allergic to wheat and you eat Cheerios, you may want to skip it this week.
On Monday, breakfast cereal maker General Mills announced that it was recalling nearly two million boxes of Honey Nut and regular Cheerios marked gluten free. The company said in a press release that "an undeclared allergen -- wheat -- with potentially adverse health effects may be present in the cereals we produced on several dates in Lodi, in July."
An Isolated Incident Involving Purely Human Error
The company was quite effusive in its apologies and explanation, writing, "We sincerely apologize to the gluten-free community and to anyone who may have been impacted. We care deeply about making safe, nutritious, gluten free products more widely available, and we've worked very hard to ensure our products are gluten free. Today we must acknowledge that we failed to meet that commitment for a time and we're recalling all affected products as a result."
General Mills made it a point to say that the oat supply was not at issue and was tested. The company is also testing all finished products and says it has instituted new protocols to ensure that gluten free products do not end up contaminated with wheat again.
What exactly happened to cause the contamination? Apparently, the rail service to the Lodi factory was out of service briefly. As a result, the gluten free oat flour was loaded into trucks instead. This change of routine caused wheat flower to be "inadvertently introduced" into the systems that process only gluten-free oats. The error evidently wasn't caught until after the products had been labeled with the FDA gluten-free standard and shipped off to the market.
Two Reported Sick
Two people have reportedly let General Mills know directly that they were affected by the contaminated products, CNN reports. The company is asking customers with wheat allergies to refrain from eating cereals with the affected codes.