On Twitter, the company asked customers to check the “better if used by” dates on their Cheerios boxes. General Mills listed codes and dates of the affected boxes on the social media website, as well as on Cheerios.com.
‘Embarrassed and truly sorry’
Jim Murphy, senior vice president and president of the Cereal division at General Mills, wrote in a blog post on the company’s website that he was “embarrassed and truly sorry” to announce the recall of the cereal. The boxes were produced in the company’s Lodi, California, facility.
“This recall is necessary because an undeclared allergen – wheat – with potential adverse health effects may be present in the cereals we produced on several dates in Lodi, in July,” he wrote.
“Our Lodi production facility lost rail service for a time and our gluten-free oat flour was being off-loaded from rail cars to trucks for delivery to our facility on the dates in question. In an isolated incident involving purely human error, wheat flour was inadvertently introduced into our gluten-free oat flour system at Lodi.”
The error meant a higher level of wheat than is legally allowed by the FDA made its way into the boxes of cereal. Other plants that produce these products were not impacted, he wrote.
A rough start
This is a bumpier start than anticipated for the launch of gluten-free Cheerios. At the end of last month, Kendall Powell, General Mills chairman and CEO of General Mills, noted that the company had huge expectations for the launch of these gluten-free Cheerios.
“Our five varieties of gluten-free Cheerios have been flowing on to store shelves over the past month and we just began advertising this news a few weeks ago,” Powell said. “While it’s still early days we’ve received a very positive consumer response.”
Murphy wrote in the apology blog post that the company sends it apologies to the gluten-free community and anyone impacted by the recall.
“We are testing all finished products. We’ve also instituted additional flour handling protocols at all facilities to ensure this will not happen again,” he wrote. “Please know we’ll be working even harder to earn back your trust.”