Cheerios accused of posing as a drug


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration may already be rueing the day it decided to go after Cheerios, cause man, it sure makes for good (if painfully cheesy) copy. Some choice headlines:

"Defending Cheerios, Cereal of Liberty" (The Big Money) "The FDA, Making the World Safe From Cheerios, For Now" (Washington Post) "A Few Holes in Cheerios' Claims?" (Kansas City Star) "A Solution for Cheerios in the Fight Against FDA Cereal Killers" (Hot Air)

Some background after the jump.

In case you haven't heard, the federal food regulator has accused General Mills, the Golden Valley-based food manufacturer which makes the popular cereal, of making claims about Cheerios' health benefits which, if true, make it subject to thorough testing -- as a drug -- by the agency.

In a letter sent last week to General Mills CEO Ken Powell, the agency says that Cheerios' claims, including that regular consumption of the oaty cereal can lower cholesterol by four percent in six weeks -- emblazoned on its bright yellow boxes -- violates federal law.

General Mills, for its part, stands behind its claims about the cereal's health benefits, saying that it's just a matter of rewording them, which they hope do in collaboration with the agency.

As reported by the Strib, the company said: "Cheerios' soluble fiber heart health claim has been FDA-approved for 12 years, and Cheerios' 'lower your cholesterol 4 percent in six weeks' message has been featured on the box for more than 2 years. The science is not in question," the company said.

Meanwhile, Wall Street cares not. General Mills is big in China, after all.