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FDA: Don't advertise Cheerios as a drug

May 13, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The FDA says Cheerios ads improperly market the cereal as a cholesterol drug. It's one of America's favorite cereals.

"It says it's for cholesterol and it is for your heart. That is why people buy it because a lot of people have heart problems," said Sonia Thomassian, consumer.

Many people we spoke say they like Cheerios because the box says it's good for lowering cholesterol.

Now the Food and Drug Administration is warning the maker of the country's top-selling cereal to clean up its advertising. The FDA says ads promoting Cheerios as a drug that "lower your cholesterol 4 percent in six weeks" violates the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act .

In a letter to the chairman of General Mills, the FDA warned that the company's marketing tactics "cause [Cheerios] to be a drug because the product is intended for use in the prevention, mitigation and treatment of disease."

General Mills contends the fuss is over a disagreement in semantics -- not science. They also assert that Cheerios soluble fiber heart health claim has been FDA approved for 12 years.

The FDA is interested in how the Cheerios cholesterol-lowering information is presented on the Cheerios package and Web site. "We look forward to discussing this with FDA and to reaching a resolution," said General Mills.

"Whole grains help combat high cholesterol because they're high in fiber and they have vitamins, minerals, proteins, antioxidants, they're really the whole package," said Samantha Helller, Health Magazine.

But mess with the packaging and some consumer say they might stop buying it.

"You leave the thing alone and I'll keep buying it. You start messing with it I don't want it anymore," said Michael Park, consumer.

Others say a change of package won't change their mind.

"I think Cheerios are pretty healthy compared to the other stuff out there. I'll keep eating it regardless," said Samara Emmerson, consumer.

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