For the one in 100 people worldwide who suffer from celiac disease, and the 30% of Americans who are voluntarily trying to avoid foods with gluten in them, a new dietary option is on the horizon. Later this year, five varieties of gluten-free Cheerios will be available for purchase.
Technically, most varieties of Cheerios were already gluten-free, as they are made from oats, but because of contamination by wheat, rye, and barley, could not be sold with a gluten-free label. It took General Mills three years to develop a way to mechanically filter the gluten grains from the oats. The newly filtered Cheerios meet the Food and Drug Administration’s gluten-free guidelines.
In 2010, General Mills started advertising that Chex cereal is gluten-free, which in turn boosted sales, and the company now claims that over 600 of its products are gluten-free.
Five varieties of Cheerios will be getting the gluten-free treatment: original Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios (currently the best-selling cereal in the United States), Frosted Cheerios, Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, and Multi-Grain Cheerios. Only Multi-Grain Cheerios required a recipe change. Wheat and barley were replaced by millet and sorghum, which are naturally gluten-free.
Currently, sales of breakfast cereals are dropping as more and more people are attempting to avoid the protein, which is naturally occurring in wheat and other grains. People with celiac disease are unable to eat products with gluten, as the autoimmune disorder causes the body to attack the lining of the intestines when gluten is ingested. Other people have shunned gluten because they believe they will be healthier without it, though there is no solid scientific data to support these claims.
In addition to offering more gluten-free choices, cereal manufacturers are attempting to boost sales by marketing their products toward people who eat cereal at non-breakfast times.