Cheerios police are at your door

Published 3:56 pm Friday, May 15, 2009

Is nothing sacred?

Now it’s Cheerios, that long-time breakfast cereal that has been in our pantries and in our stomachs since 1941.

The federal Food and Drug Administration has warned General Mills, makers of Cheerios, that they are in violation of federal law when the company advertises Cheerios as a cholesterol fighter and a heart-healthy food.

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The FDA says, if it does those things as advertised, then Cheerios must be classified as a drug, and thus, since it does not have FDA approval as a drug, the company is in violation of federal law, subject to fines, forfeitures, incarceration, flogging, loss of citizenship, etc.

How Cheerios can claim it is heart healthy is simple.

Nutrition experts will tell you that oats are a natural food, high in fiber, low in cholesterol, an anti-oxidant, capable of cleaning clogged arteries, thereby making eating oats “heart healthy.”

Now, almost all of us at one time or another can open our pantries and discover a box of Cheerios on the shelf. At our house, it’s a good bet there are two boxes, as it is our favorite get-up-and-go breakfast food. I buy it because of what it says on the box, it’s heart healthy and lowers cholesterol. Besides, we like them.

(Ever wonder how many Cheerios, those tiny little “O’s,” are in a 15-ounce box? Or if you made a necklace from all those tiny little “O’s” in the box, how far in front of your house and down the street could you string them all together?)*

What the FDA also is complaining about is the company claim that by eating Cheerios every day, by the end of 30 days, your cholesterol count should be down by 10 percent.

That claim too enhances the FDA assumption that Cheerios could be designated “a drug,” and all drugs must be approved before human consumption.

Here’s what’s going to happen if General Mills doesn’t change its advertising on the box.

There will be a knock on your front door, to which will appear the Cheerios police.

“Got any Cheerios in the house?” the Cheerios police from the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office or Bainbridge Public Safety will demand.

Don’t deny it, because if you do, he’ll proffer a search warrant. You will be under arrest for harboring an illegal drug in your pantry, and you will also be subject to arrest for consuming an illegal drug, and be subject to fines, forfeitures, incarceration, flogging, loss of citizenship etc. … totally embarrassed before your children, spouse, friends, neighbors, coworkers.

“The Cheerios police arrested Edna this morning,” your supervisor will tell your co-workers, “and her children were picked up by Department of Children and Family Services because she was classified as an unfit parent who served her kids Cheerios for breakfast. Don’t let it happen to you,” he warned.

What does General Mills say about all this?

Well, they say Cheerios is the only ready-to-eat cereal clinically proven to lower cholesterol when eaten with a diet low in saturated fat. The wholesome goodness of oats is ideal as a nutritious breakfast or a snack for kids, teens and adults. One cup serving also gives you 50 percent of your daily folic acid needs. The FDA demands General Mills change its advertising claims, and General Mills responds by saying the dispute is over language not science.

Now get this.

Consumer Reports, after a study of the nutritional values of breakfast cereals advertised on Saturday morning kids television, has reported that Cheerios is the top-rated healthy food, high in fiber, very little sugar and sodium.

Consumer Reports also reported that Kix, Lucky Charmes and Frosted Mini Wheats received a “good” rating while Rice Crispies, Corn Pops, Honey Smacks, Fruit Loops and Golden Crisps were rated only “fair” due to a high sugar content.

And lastly,

 4,802 Cheerios were counted in the 15-ounce box. The necklace runs in front of the house and down the street at 73 feet; 2-5/8 inches.