The cereal in trouble with the food police

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The cereal in trouble with the food police
Image Credit: General Mills
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The protein craze has hit the cereal aisle, with one brand alarming a consumer advocacy group.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest said it is beginning an investigation of Cheerios Protein, ‘a product that, despite its name, offers per calorie virtually no more protein than Cheerios, costs more, and has a whopping 17 times the sugar of the original,’ according to an email sent to its distribution list of activists.

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Compare nutrition labels of Cheerios versus Cheerios Protein cereals and you’ll see what the consumer group is talking about.

Deceptive advertising from General Mills?

The regular yellow box of Cheerios so many of us grew up eating has 3 grams of protein, while Cheerios Protein Oats & Honey has 7 grams per serving.

But it also has twice the amount of calories — 210 in Cheerios Protein versus 100 in regular Cheerios.

Do the math and it’s about the same amount of protein per calorie.

As for the sugar claim, it also is true.

Nutrition facts on Cheerios show just 1 gram of sugar per serving.

Cheerios Protein Oats & Honey has 17 grams.

And yes, Cheerios is cheaper.

$2.98 at Walmart right now versus $3.52 for the protein variety, but you get two ounces more of the grainy loops.

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A spokesman at the CSPI says the group is still deciding what, if anything, to do about objections to Cheerios Protein.

In the past it has petitioned the Federal Trade Commission or Food and Drug Administration to take action against what it considers deceptive advertising in foods.

The cereals both bear the name Cheerios, but foodmaker General Mills points out they are different products, giving us this statement:

Cheerios Protein cereals have more than 5g of high quality protein and provide 10 percent of recommended daily value, making them good sources of protein based on FDA regulations. Cheerios Protein cereals are different products than original Cheerios and have different recipes and different ingredients. The protein and sugar are labeled per serving as required by the FDA and different products may have different serving sizes. The price of Cheerios Protein cereals may differ from other Cheerios products because it is driven by the cost of the ingredients in the products.

Read more: 19 ‘healthy foods’ you should reconsider

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