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Lawsuit Claims General Mills’ Cheerios Protein Misleads Consumers

Update Date: Nov 14, 2015 09:44 AM EST

General Mills, the maker of several popular cereal brands, such as Lucky Charms and Cheerios, is under fire for misleading its consumers, a new lawsuit filed by consumer group, Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), claimed.

According to the suit, the company's latest product, Cheerios Protein, is tricking people into believing that it contains a lot more protein than the original Cheerios.

Michael Jacobson, president of CSPI, explained, reported by The Washington Post, "The overall impression of the box is that the cereal has a lot more protein than traditional Cheerios, but when you look at the nutrition label, it's clear that Protein Cheerios has only a little bit more protein, and a lot more sugar. We think that's very deceptive."

The difference in the amount of protein per serving between the traditional Cheerios and Cheerios Protein is four grams (traditional version contains three grams of protein per serving). The difference in sugar, however, was more significant. One serving of the traditional Cheerios contain one gram of sugar whereas one serving of Cheerios Protein contains 17 grams of sugar.

"This is a very minimal change when you look at how much protein people eat," said Jacobson.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that men and women consume 56 grams and 46 grams of protein, respectively, per day.

CSPI noted that they did not file a lawsuit simply because Cheerios Protein contains a lot more sugar than General Mills' other types of Cheerios. The consumer group, however, is claiming that this particular Cheerios product is problematic because of its name.

"I think people wouldn't buy the cereal if they knew how little the difference in protein is," Jacobson said. "But that fact isn't obvious."

General Mills has commented about the lawsuit, stating that it is "publicity-seeking."

The company wrote in an e-mail, "To state the facts, an equal amount of Cheerios Protein contains 18 percent more protein by weight than original Cheerios. Cheerios Protein contains 7 grams of protein per serving - and it does qualify as a good source of high-quality protein under the FDA standard. Cheerios Protein provides a good source of protein in every labeled serving - and it is accurately labeled."

Read the lawsuit here.

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