Cheerios lawsuit involving General Mills focuses on serious recall

Lana Bandoim's picture

Two consumers have filed a class action lawsuit against General Mills because of the recent recall of gluten-free Cheerios. The company recalled 1.8 million boxes of the cereal because they contained gluten. Both regular Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios were affected by the recall. Now, two consumers are suing General Mills and claim the company is practicing false advertising.

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Keri Van Lengen and Deborah Nava are the two consumers who have filed the class action lawsuit. They state that General Mills has “deceptive, unfair and false advertising” practices that put the lives of customers at risk. In addition, they mention that they would not have bought the gluten-free Cheerios if mislabeling had not occurred. The two women want a refund plus damages for the recalled cereal. They also want General Mills to release the profits it made from selling the cereal and to change its labeling rules.

General Mills recalled 1.8 million boxes of regular Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios because it claimed the Lodi facility became contaminated with gluten. Some of the wheat flour accidentally contaminated the oat flour used for the cereal. The company shared that only certain lots of Cheerios were affected. It provided a complete list of affected boxes that could be identified by their best by dates. Consumers with celiac disease and gluten intolerance were encouraged not to eat the cereal and return it for a refund.

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The official court documents reveal that Keri Van Lengen and Deborah Nava saw advertising for gluten-free Cheerios, and this affected their decision to purchase the product. The women claim that General Mills falsely advertised the cereal and put their health at risk. Both women bought Cheerios that were affected by the recall. In the class action filing papers, the lawyers argue that General Mills violated California’s Sherman Law because it sold products labeled as gluten-free, but they contained gluten. The documents list this as an “unlawful” business practice.

The documents also mention that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received reports of adverse reactions to gluten-free Cheerios. More than 100 consumer complaints have been filed. The FDA has tested the cereal and found that it contained higher than expected levels of gluten. A company representative from General Mills issued an apology to the gluten-free community in a blog post. Jim Murphy, who is a senior vice president and president of the Cereal division, shared that he was embarrassed by the recall.

Consumers continue to question the amount of gluten in Cheerios cereal and also want to know more about the entire production process. General Mills has stated that the gluten-free oat flour relies on a special cleaning system that eliminates wheat and barley. The processing allegedly removes the gluten-containing grains, but consumers worry that it may lead to cross-contamination. In the recent recall, wheat flour contaminated the oat flour for the gluten-free Cheerios.

Despite the recent recall, General Mills does not have plans to stop concentrating on gluten-free products. Although it discontinued Gluten Free Chex Oatmeal this year, it does not have plans to stop making gluten-free Cheerios. The company may also be considering adding more gluten-free options in the future. Meanwhile, Keri Van Lengen and Deborah Nava hope their class action lawsuit against the company will move forward.

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