FDA overzealous in stopping General Mills’ Cheerios marketing?

May 13, 2009

(ChattahBox) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has sent a warning letter to General Mills Inc. General Mills to stop promoting Cheerios, as a product that can lower cholesterol levels, reduce heart disease and reduce the risk of cancer. While the spirit of the FDA’s actions to prevent overhyping and making false claims is one of their key responsibilities, I fear once again they have misused their power.  The note sent last week demanded a change to how the Minnesota-based food provider promotes the health benefits of Cheerios, the country’s best-selling cereal.

Cheerios boxes say that two, one-and-a-half-cup servings of the cereal every day have been clinically proven to lower cholesterol levels by 4 percent in six weeks. The message has been on the box for more than two years.  The FDA said that claiming the cereal can lower cholesterol amounts to marketing it as a drug and violates the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Makes you wonder which pharmaceutical company nudged the FDA to protect the sales of their cholesterol drug?  Health claims have helped food and beverage makers boost sales as more consumers struggle with obesity. I am all for preventing the wild claims that some products make in attempts to get desperate people to buy their products but I don’t know that is the case here and it seems the FDA might want to focus on more obvious offenders.

In a prepared statement, General Mills  said the complaint doesn’t question whether the cereal actually lowers cholesterol levels and said the dispute is over language, not science.

“The scientific body of evidence supporting the heart health claim was the basis for FDA’s approval of the heart health claim, and the clinical study supporting Cheerios’ cholesterol-lowering benefit is very strong,” the statement said. “We look forward to discussing this with FDA and to reaching a resolution.”

The FDA gave General Mills 15 days to explain how it will correct its statements on Cheerios.



2 Responses to “FDA overzealous in stopping General Mills’ Cheerios marketing?”

  1. gene lawson on May 13th, 2009 8:47 am

    i think al qore take all the money he has made and go away

  2. Lucien Beauley on May 15th, 2009 1:47 pm

    I believe the prime purpose and charter of the FDA is to protect the public from untested pharmaceutical drugs which can harm us, not squable over business practice which will not harm the public. Protection, not destruction.

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