Annie’s Gluten Free Products: Part 2

To my surprise, Annie’s did respond again. Twice more, actually. The first response was just to explain to me what the labels “contains” and “may contain” means, which I’m sure is helpful for consumers new to allergen-free eating, but from the questions I was asking, it should have been clear we were past that point. It was just a filler-email; creating more effort for me to try again to get a response.

Annie’s / General Mills’ Response:

The next response included this info (emphasis in bold black/red is mine):

Dear Valued Consumer, 

Thank you for taking the time to contact Annie’s.

I sincerely apologize for the miscommunication in the previous emails.

You have mentioned Cheerios in your original email. There are simply not enough certified/purity protocol gluten-free oats in the world to supply Cheerios. In addition, the way we make Gluten Free Cheerios makes purity oats unnecessary. Our process effectively cleans oats, providing us with a steady supply of gluten-free oats. We are always working to source the purest oats, and have various tests in place to ensure our oats are gluten free before they’re even made into Gluten Free Cheerios.

Regarding the Annie’s product, in order for us to do further research and escalate this to our Information Specialists to provide an accurate response, we would need additional information. If the UPC is not available, please reply with the product name. Which specific product is it that your follower is referring to? Would it be Granola-Based Snacks/ Cookies/ Mac And Cheese or any other Annie’s product?

We adhere to the FDA’s required standard for Gluten Free labeling. All GF products must contain less than 20-ppm gluten.

The United States has long had the safest food supply in the world. We want to assure you that we at General Mills take every precaution to ensure that our products are safe, and we urge you to enjoy them with confidence

Thank you again for contacting us. We appreciate your interest.


Consumer Care

My thoughts:

I am sure they meant this reply to be comforting, but it did the exact opposite. And it further strengthens my opinion at at how incompetent General Mills is about producing actually gluten free products. It also shows me just how much their gluten free line is totally for profit and not for concern about their Celiac customers; they just continue to prove how unknowledgeable they really are.

For those of you who have been following Gluten Dude’s posts, you know just how unsafe Cheerios really are for Celiacs. General Mills belief that their process makes Purity Protocol oats unnecessary is, to me, pure ego. Not all Celiacs can have oats, mind you, but the only safe ones are Purity Protocol.  PP oats can be certified gluten free, but not all certified gluten free oats are purity protocol, due to growing, harvesting, and production methods. When oats are not grown under PP, they can never be considered PP further down the line.

If General Mills was actually able to fully clean non-PP oats, they presumably wouldn’t be having so the years of difficulties they’ve been having with Cheerios (among other GM, including Betty Cocker, products). If non-PP oats could be fully and safely cleaned by companies, you wouldn’t see those of us who can have oats pressuring companies on if they’re using PP oats or not.

But it does matter. Absolutely.

Status of General Mills’ “gluten-free” products in Canada:

General Mills “voluntarily” removed the gluten free label off of their products in Canada. Why, you ask?

The Canadian Celiac Association suggested that those with celiac disease should not consume Cheerios due to the process General Mills uses for sorting gluten-containing grains from the oats. Documentation states that cross-contamination takes place when sorting oat grains with wheat grains. Celiac groups in Canada claim mechanical sorting is unreliable since barley and wheat are similar in size, shape, and color as oats.

The mechanical separation issue is also why I don’t trust claims of wheat and barley grass being gluten free. (I’d be equally suspicious of rye grass, but have never seen it for sale.) In addition to having Celiac, I’m allergic to wheat, so I can’t have wheat grass in any case, but I firmly believe gluten free should include wheat free by default. I’ve talked to so many Celiacs who cannot have any part of wheat.

To make the grasses truly gluten free, they would have to be harvested at exactly the right time, every single time. Each wheat plant would have to mature at exactly the same rate as every other wheat plant in the field. If this didn’t happen, then the gluten grain would get introduced into one, or more, of the batches of wheat grass. What if it didn’t get sorted out (very likely) and ended up in the end product. Do you want to be the unlucky person who eats it?

How wheat and wheat grass are harvested:

Have you seen a field of wheat grass? Take a look at this video and tell me how easily you think it would really be to make sure that every single growth here hadn’t yet developed the gluten protein? That protein, by the way, usually starts to grow between day 10 and 14. I say usually, because, having grown plants before (edible and not), even when planted at the same time, not everything grows at exactly the same time.

Also, here is a video showing you a wheat harvest. 1,200 bushels at a time. And look at all the dust that is kicked up from the harvesting!

I have not responded to GM/Annie’s yet, but I am going to, and will be including articles from various sites about how Cheerios continually gluten people; something that shouldn’t be happening based on this email from them. If they provide a follow-up, I will share it.

Additional Info:

Gluten Free Watchdog: Canadian Celiac Association Recommends Against Gluten-Free Cheerios


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