Lawsuit Casts Doubt on Cheerios Protein Claims

November 11, 2015, 10:06 PM UTC
Boxes of Cheerios
Photograph by Justin Sullivan–Getty Images

General Mills has been slapped with a lawsuit from the Center for Science in the Public Interest over its new Cheerios Protein product.

The non-profit group claims that the cereal maker has overblown the health benefits of the new food, according to BuzzFeed.

The lawsuit states that the added protein is actually misleading given that the serving size for Cheerios Protein prescribed on the label is greater than for a regular helping of Cheerios.

For instance, a regular serving of Cheerios has 3g of protein, while there are 7g in a single serving of Cheerios Protein. But the difference is that a serving of regular Cheerios is 3/4 a cup compared to a cup and a half for Cheerios Protein, according to BuzzFeed.

The lawsuit wants General Mills to stop its “false and misleading marketing practices with regard to Cheerios Protein.”

“Consumers who buy Cheerios Protein probably think they’re doing themselves a favor, and that this more expensive product is essentially a protein-fortified version of original Cheerios,” said CSPI litigation director Maia Kats in a statement. “In fact, the main thing that distinguishes Cheerios Protein from original Cheerios is the huge amount of sugar and extra calories.”

She added, “With 17 times as much sugar as original Cheerios, Cheerios Protein is actually more conducive to diabetes, weight gain, heart disease, and tooth decay.”

“We don’t normally respond to these publicity-seeking lawsuits from CSPI – but we do reject their comparison,” according to General Mills spokesman Mike Siemienas in an emailed statement to Fortune. “An equal amount of Cheerios Protein contains 18% more protein by weight than original Cheerios.”

“Original Cheerios does contain 3 grams of protein per serving – and it’s clearly a great cereal choice,” he added. “But it doesn’t meet the FDA requirement as a good source of protein.”

“Cheerios Protein contains 7 grams of protein per serving – and it does qualify as a good source of high-quality protein under the FDA standard,” said Siemienas. “Cheerios Protein is accurately labeled – and provides a good source of protein in every labeled serving.”

In October, General Mills issued a recall of some boxes of Cheerios over concerns some were contaminated with gluten despite being labeled gluten-free.

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