FDA chides Cheerios maker for drug claims

If you’re concerned about your health, avoid foods that make health claims. That’s the tart, counterintuitive advice from the thoughtful journalist and food thinker Michael Pollan.

cheerios
Photo by House Of Sims via Flickr

How come? A health claim on a product, he says,”is a good indication that it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.” The problem for shoppers is that makers of processed food barrage consumers with promises of health tied to eating this product or that.

Enter Cheerios, a staple of breakfasts for generations. In recent years, General Mills, the cereal’s maker, has taken to marketing the toasted oat cereal as if it were the simple solution for managing high cholesterol and heart disease. The Cheerios box chirps: “Did you know that in just 6 weeks Cheerios can reduce bad cholesterol by an average of 4 percent?”

Well, the marketing claims for the little O’s sounded so much like a direct-to-consumer drug ad that FDA just slapped the company with a warning letter that said drop the hype or prove the cereal affects disease, just the way drugmakers have to.

General Mills stands behind the Cheerios box, saying in a statement, “The science is not in question.”

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  1. Pingback: New FDA brass sets public health agenda : Covering Health

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