FDA Cracks Down on Cheerios' Misleading Cholesterol Claims

Move Applauded by CSPI

May 12, 2009

The Food and Drug Administration took long-overdue action by demanding that General Mills halt its grossly exaggerated and misleading health claims for Cheerios cereal. The company claims that Cheerios can reduce "bad" cholesterol levels by 4 percent in just 6 weeks and ward off heart disease and cancers of the colon and stomach. The claims are plastered on Cheerios packages, the General Mills web site, and are even announced on supermarket public address systems.

The FDA has approved a more general health claim that eating diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and high in fiber-containing fruit, vegetable, and grain products may reduce the risk of heart disease. But the claims for Cheerios portrayed the mentioned diseases not included in the FDA-authorized claim and failed to mention the importance of eating a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

"This is the strongest action taken by the FDA against misleading health claims for foods in almost a decade," said CSPI legal affairs director Bruce Silverglade. "I hope the FDA is signaling the entire food industry that the Bush era policy of lax enforcement has come to an end. The FDA should also stop misleading claims for so-called 'whole grain' products that are mostly made with white flour and foods claimed to be made with fruit when they only contain trivial amounts of juice."


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