FDA investigates possible link between Lucky Charms and diseases

Food and Drug Administration officials said they are reviewing reports from more than 100 consumers who told the agency they had become ill after recently eating Lucky Charms cereal.

The reports come after thousands of people complained on a consumer website, saying they suffered from nausea, vomiting and diarrhea after eating lucky charms.

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“The agency is currently reviewing and investigating these reports,” an FDA spokeswoman said.

General Mills Inc., which makes the cereal, said it was working with the FDA on the matter. The company said it conducted an extensive internal investigation which found no evidence of illnesses related to the use of Lucky Charms. “We encourage consumers to share their concerns directly with General Mills,” a spokeswoman said.

FILE – Boxes of General Mills Lucky Charms cereal are seen on a shelf at a Costco warehouse in Robinson Township, Pa. Thursday, May 14, 2020. On Saturday, April 16, 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that he is investigating Lucky Cha ((AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)/AP Newsroom)

General Mills and the FDA have not issued a recall of the cereal, which is one of the company’s top brands.

“The FDA takes seriously any reports of possible adulteration of a food that could also cause illness or injury,” the FDA spokeswoman said.

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It’s rare for people to get sick from eating breakfast cereal because the cereal is cooked, which usually kills pathogens, food safety experts have said. Cereals can become contaminated after they are cooked, when the sprouts are glazed with a sugar coating, for example, or when they are packaged.

Patrick Quade, founder of consumer website iwaspoisoned.com, said so far this year his site has received nearly 2,500 reports from people across the country who said they fell ill shortly after eating Lucky Charms. The vast majority of the reports came in within the past two weeks, and they represent the largest number of complaints the decade-old website has ever received for a single product, he said.

General Mills is an American multinational corporation that manufactures and markets branded consumer foods sold through retail stores. REUTERS/Jim Young

Consumer reports of Lucky Charms-related illnesses to the FDA have surged over the past week following news articles from the New York Post and USA Today regarding complaints filed on Mr. quad.

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Some consumers who reported their illnesses to Mr. Quade’s website and to the FDA told Mr. Quade that the FDA had contacted them about testing their cereals, he said. The FDA declined to comment.

FDA headquarters sign

FDA headquarters in Washington DC. (iStock/iStock)

Kristin Johnson, who lives in Lexington, Kentucky, said she gave her two-year-old daughter Lucky Charms about a week ago and her daughter fell ill for a few days. “When she started to feel better, I gave her some good luck charms because I thought it was something she would eat since it’s her favorite treat. And she got sick again,” said said Ms Johnson.

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General Mills declined to comment further.

In recent years, consumer advocacy groups have called the FDA slow to respond to foodborne illness outbreaks. Last month, the FDA received complaints from Consumer Reports, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and other organizations about its handling of a tainted infant formula recall earlier this year after two babies died.

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The FDA said it could not comment on the timing of the infant formula recall, but would conduct a review once the outbreak investigation is complete. In December, the agency said it had expanded its rapid response team to help resolve outbreaks more quickly.

In 2018, a salmonella outbreak attributed to Kellogg Co.’s Honey Smacks cereal sickened at least 135 people in 36 states. An investigation by food regulators found the factory Kellogg contracted to make Honey Smacks had unsanitary conditions. Regulators said the owners of that plant, Wisconsin-based Kerry Inc., found salmonella on production lines and in a grain coating room. At the time, Kellogg said it stopped contracting with that plant to make its cereal, and Kerry said it had improved equipment sanitation and increased training.

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Cereals can also be contaminated by packaging. In 2010, Kellogg recalled 28 million boxes of Froot Loops and other brands after consumers complained about the taste and smell, and some people reported falling ill after eating them. Kellogg said he discovered the problem was high levels of a food-packaging substance in the liner of the cereal box.

Write to Annie Gasparro at [email protected]

Harry D. Gonzalez