The FDA warned General Mills that it was, in effect, marketing its Cheerios breakfast cereal as a drug, because the cereal’s familiar yellow boxes carry unapproved claims about lowering cholesterol and reducing the risks of heart disease.
In a warning letter, the FDA cited the claim that “you can lower your cholesterol by 4 per cent in six weeks” by eating Cheerios regularly.
It objected to Cheerios’ assertion that “eating two 1½ cup servings daily of Cheerios cereal reduced bad cholesterol when eaten as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol”.
The claims – a central plank of Cheerios marketing for more than two years – go beyond the tightly defined health benefit claim for foods with soluble fibres, such as Cheerios, approved by the FDA for use in food marketing.
Dr Steven Sundloff, head of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety, said the action was “not to impugn Cheerios”, which he called “a product that can be part of a healthy diet”.
But he said: “The packaging clearly carries a drug claim.”
Your tax dollars at work.