Cheerios under attack again

Published 2:51 pm Friday, April 23, 2010

The feds are after Cheerios again.

Have they no mercy?

About a year ago, it was reported in this space that the feds were after Cheerios because General Mills claimed in big bold letters on their box that the breakfast cereal made from oats would help naturally lower cholesterol.

Email newsletter signup

Ten percent in one month, they claimed on the front of the box.

The Food and Drug Administration said if it did that, then the cereal would have to be classified as a drug. Presumably, if it became a drug, you might have to ask your doctor for prescription to eat Cheerios.

Would that mean pharmacies would have to dispense the cereal in those little round tubes that regular drug pills come in?

Now, the FDA is saying, Cheerios and most manufactured foods have too much salt.

There’s too much salt in our diets, the new report from the Institute of Medicine says, and it is one of the causes of high blood pressure and heart disease.

General Mills, maker of Cheerios, along with Kraft Foods, have pledged to reduce salt in their products in response to the dangers now being reported on the health issue. The Institute is part of the National Academy of Sciences, which has a lot of sway when it comes to federal regulations regarding the food industry.

The Institute’s report says we all have too much salt in our diets.

On average, it says we consume 3,400 milligrams of sodium or 1.5 teaspoons per day, which far exceeds the national dietary recommendations of no more than 2,300 milligrams per day. Greatly reduce huge consumption of salt, and it could prevent more than 100,000 deaths annually.

The FDA apparently wants manufacturers to voluntarily reduce the sodium in their products rather than come up with new food guidelines and regulations. The problem is sodium also acts as a preservative. Take it away, and foods could quickly gather mold. And there’s also the taste factor. Take away the salt, and food tastes bland. Salt brings out the natural flavors of foods.

As for Cheerios, General Mills is cooperating and has cut sodium by 16 percent, and is working on other foods.

Here around home, my grandkids love Cheerios. They pour them in cups and plastic bags, and eat them dry as snacks. They are putting the power of oats working for them in their younger years. But youngsters also have another problem—too much sugar in their diets.

According to what it says on the back of the cereal box, “every time you pour a bowl of Cheerios cereal, you are putting the power of oats to work for you. In fact, Cheerios is made with 100 percent natural whole grain oats, and no other grain is better than oats for lowering cholesterol.”

So what do you do?

Cheerios says their cereal lowers cholesterol, which causes heart disease, while the Institute of Medicine says it has too much salt, which could cause heart disease.

Well, we could stop eating, but that has serious side effects too.