General Mills recently released a new flavor of Cheerios – but the response hasn't been entirely, well, cheery.
The slightly darker offshoot of the traditional cold cereal oats are difficult to distinguish from normal "O's," some parents say, which increases the possibility of becoming mixed up by young children.
Controversy reached the pages of the Washington Post this week, and Gina Clowes, founder of the national support group Allergy Moms was quoted as saying that some allergy families will avoid Cheerios all together.
Local parent Cheri Morris, whose son, Jake, 7, suffers from severe peanut allergies, understands the concern.
Even trace amounts of the allergen can cause a reaction, even death, she said, and a well-regarded national study published in the journal Pediatrics this past summer estimated that 8 percent of children — 5.9 million kids — suffer from food allergies.
The report also found that close to 40 percent of those children suffer severe reactions. Just last week, a Virginia girl died of a reaction while playing at school.
The new flavor is carried by local outlets such as , , and .
Morris said that upon learning of the new brand, she called General Mills. "(The company) advised me that they take food allergies very seriously and that that the regular Cheerios are not on the same line as the peanut butter ones," Morris said. "They also assured me that a 'may contain' statement will be visible in instances were there is the possibility of cross contamination."
Morris added that she tries to minimize risk to Jake and his 4-year-old sister by closely monitoring what is brought into the house, as well as by training her children to not eat food she hasn't prescreened by reading the label.
What do you think? Is the new Cheerios flavor a bad idea, or not?