Is Cheerios really a drug, and why is the FDA targeting the cereal?

The FDA sent a stern-sounding letter to the makers of Cheerios.

Not happy with their claims of being clinically proven to lower cholesterol, MedPage Today reports that Cheerios, by making “unauthorized health claims,” is going to be treated as an “unapproved new drug.”

Pharma watchdog John Mack thinks the FDA is going overboard by targeting Cheerios, with rampant, false claims by herbal and alternative supplements going unchecked on the web.

Indeed, “a warning letter may have been overkill and that there is a problem when charlatans are free to claim cures with impunity ([with] nothing but ‘patient’ testimonials and bogus clinical trials that have not been reviewed by the FDA).”

Seems like the FDA’s priorities are a bit askew.

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  • Randal

    The FDA may be targeting Cheerio’s because it is popular, healthy food and making profits… Enough said . .

  • The Happy Hospitalist

    All foods are like drugs. And they all have side effects, good or bad

  • Anonymous

    The FDA has been a complete failure since its inception and this insanity confirms this. Now Big Brother wants to regulate cereal! Welcome to the the Gulag States of America!

  • Joseph Kim, MD, MPH

    I hope it remains over-the-counter…

  • Randal

    Dr. Kim –
    Your response – Now that’s funny…You may have made my day.

  • Anonymous

    There’s gotta be a way to blame Bush for that…..

    Here’s an article on litigation abuse, and those judicial hellholes that suposedly don’t exist:

  • Anonymous

    I’ve alwazys joked that if I sold limes with the claim “This product, taken orally, will help prevent scurvy”…..the FDA would probably prosecute me.

    Maybe it’s not a joke.

  • Chuck Brooks

    Perhaps it can be brought in from Canada.
    Chuck Brooks
    FutureWare SCG

  • Aaron B. Hicks

    General Mills is a big target. The FDA had to know that issuing a warning for Cheerios would make big news. In a way, their warning might serve as deterrent to the claims made by other producers in the food and dietary supplement industries.

  • Anonymous

    It seems that the priorities have gotten mixed up. The FDA ought to target the nicotine that is now in mushrooms first.

  • Dr. Matthew Mintz

    Though clearly not a drug, the entire Cheerios marketing campaign is about how good it is for your heart. My concern about this is when I tell patients at high risk for cardiovascular disease that they need to take a lipid lowering agent, they don’t understand why we can’t try Cheerios firt.
    That said, there are many more important things the FDA should go after. Check out my post “4 Things the FDA Should Go After Besides Cheerios” on my blog at

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