Archive for May 15th, 2009

“Popular cereal is a drug, US food watchdog says”

See full size imageAt first, it sounded ridiculous – the Food and Drug Administration calling Cheerios a drug? That was the headline which caught my attention. I half expected to read about the millions of kids becoming addicted to the little round bits of processed “oats”  I should have known better. It was a misleading headline about the misleading claims of one of America’s leading breakfast cereals. Cheerios is no more a drug than it is a cure for high cholesterol.

The FDA did not say Cheerios was a drug, per se. It sent General Mills a warning letter, telling them their health claims make Cheerios look like a new drug. As protectors of America’s health, the FDA takes exception to the manufacturer’s claims and threatens to seize boxes of Cheerios from retailer shelves. General Mills has 15 days to do something about all this, and they aren’t taking it lying down. The good folks at Cheerios are in a “dialogue” with the FDA over this dispute, and they hope to resolve it soon. 

In the mean time, I would like to point out that General Mills is in business to make money, not improve your health. This is only an advertising strategy and advertising is the method by which cost is added to a product without a corresponding increase in value. 

So how are Cheerios made?

Cheerios are produced in a factory. General Mills takes whole grain oat flour and then adds in some more oat bran and oat fiber (as well as a little sugar and salt.) The flour is then mixed together in a big vat with water and some “binders” like corn and wheat starch and pushed through machinery (also called “dies”) to create the little “Os”. The “Os” are then cooked in a pressurized steam cylinder, dried some more and sprayed with synthetic vitamins.



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