Cheerios not THAT good for you, says FDA


If there's any food that's ubiquitous on a menu for little children, it's Cheerios. The little circles-of-oats are just the right size for little fingers; they're not likely to create a choking hazard before they disintegrate in a baby's mouth; and ohmygod they're whole grain! So good for you. But little children only stay little for a few years, and from there, General Mills (NYSE: GIS) found its market crunched on the kitchen floor like so many little underfoot o's. Solution: market it as a health food to adults!

This was a great idea, right? It's now the country's best-selling cereal. Its recent commercials, depicting adult Cheerios-eaters as holier-than-thou layabouts on the easiest cholesterol-lowering diet ever, have many problems (first, I didn't like any of the Cheerios eaters, they were terrifically superior and mean-spirited). News the FDA has ordered the company to alter its marketing hit the wires earlier this month; sadly, it's not because the actors are annoying. General Mills has been told its specific claims that Cheerios can lower cholesterol levels by 4% in six weeks amounts to marketing it as a drug and violates the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The cereal is also touted for its ability to reduce heart disease and reduce the risk of cancer. The agency said that claiming the cereal can treat hypercholesterolemia means "the product is a drug within the meaning of section 201(g)(1)(B) of the Act."

Originally published