Cheerios . . . the wonder drug?
That's what the Food and Drug Administration appears to be wondering.
The FDA has sent a warning letter to General Mills Inc., telling the Minneapolis company that its claims about the health benefits of eating Cheerios "would cause it to be a drug because the product is intended for use in the prevention, mitigation and treatment of disease."
Because Cheerios is a food, not a drug, specific claims that the 68-year-old whole-grain oat cereal lowers cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer violate federal law, the FDA said in the letter sent May 5 and made public Tuesday.
The agency allows health benefits of foods to be advertised within strict limits.
For instance, a company can tout its product while saying that a diet low in saturated fat and high in fiber-rich fruit, vegetables and whole grains may reduce the risk of heart disease.