A group claims that consumers have been mislead, and it starts with General Mills accused of false advertising of Cheerios Protein, a product that came out last year and boasted heightened content.
- CSPI filed a lawsuit against General Mills, claiming that Cheerios Protein has too little of the nutrient
- Cheerio Proteins contains 7g of proteins, and 17g of sugar
- Based on weight of the cereals, CSPI claims that Cheerio Proteins has only 1g of extra protein and 8 times more sugar than the original Cheerios
- General Mills stated that the comparison is false, and that Cheerio Protein has 18% more protein than the original
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has filed a lawsuit against the cereal maker under the claims that they have not been divulging proper information on their product. General Mills is known for popular products such as Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Lucky Charms, Fiber One, and, of course, Cheerios.
The rounded light cereals have become a highly successful brand, with around 12 extra ‘spin-offs’ from its original recipe. Every single one of them has more sugar than the initial Cheerios variety. Cheerios Protein is no exception. It has far more sugar, more perhaps than expected, but that is not the main focus of the lawsuit. Instead, it’s the crucial ingredient named in its title.
According to the president of CSPI, Michael Jacobson, the company offers the impression that their special brand has a much higher content of protein than the original. However, by simply looking at the label, they stated that it has only a little bit more protein. The consumer group remarked that this is “very deceptive”, as it might fool their customers on what kind of health benefits the product actually has.
However, it stands to question on how many actually base their daily protein intake from cereals. Those are meals rich in carbohydrates, and rather famous for it.
Litigation director for the CSPI, Maia Kats, stated that the only significant difference between Cheerios Protein and original Cheerios is actually in just the sugar content. One serving of the original Cheerios has 3g (grams) of protein and 1g of sugar. Meanwhile, a serving of Cheerios Protein has 7g of protein and 17g of sugar. This means that for the extra 4g of protein, consumers get a whopping 16g of more sugar.
The consumer group filing the lawsuit claims that the difference is hardly significant enough to bring the big, bolded word ‘protein’ in the title. The change is minimal. When the actual servings were adjusted to the correct proportions of both servings, the difference was even smaller.
By weight of the actual cereals, Cheerios Proteins packs just 1g more than original Cheerios. It also still has around 8 times more sugar.
According to Jacobson, the difference is insignificant and the label is entirely misleading. The added sugar could actually favor diabetes, heart problems, and tooth decay more than the benefit of extra protein it boasts.
However, Mike Siemienas, who is a General Mills spokesman, dismisses the comparison between their products. He states that when comparing equal portions of Cheerios Protein and original Cheerios, the former has 18% more protein by weight. In fact, according to the USDA’s guidelines, it’s a “good source” of the nutrient.
The lawsuit was dismissed by General Mills as “publicity seeking”, and states that their 7g per serving is, in fact, considered a good source of protein under FDA standards.
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