I am not a regular on the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) website, but a news story earlier this week caught my attention and I went in for a closer look. Would you believe, that the FDA is calling Cheerios “an unapproved new drug” and “a misbranded food”! They recently wrote a letter to General Mills, the makers of Cheerios, declaring that the health claims being made on the Cheerios box were in “serious violation… of Federal Regulations.” The warning letter outlines that if a food manufacturer makes health claims, such as the ones in large letters on the Cheerios box, and promoted in the product’s advertising, to reduce cholesterol, reduce risk of coronary heart disease and cancer, is falls into the FDA category of “drug because the product is intended for use in the prevention, mitigation and treatment of disease.”
This is the first time in nine years that the FDA has taken action against a food manufacturer. This cheers me up. Countless products come in packages with similar health claims. After being bombarded with this type of information both on food products and through various forms of advertising, you can’t blame the consumer for starting to believe it. I am feeling hopeful that the FDA might start watching the food industry (particularly “Big Food”) a little more closely now. In the meantime, I wonder what will happen…. will Cheerios apply for FDA drug approval to be sold as “Cheerios OTC” in pharmacies, or is the graphic design department at General Mills hard at work redesigning the box?
If you are interested in reading the warning letter, it is available here: