- The FDA has closed its four-month investigation into reports of illness linked to General Mills’ Lucky Charms. The department said it found no pathogen or cause behind 558 self-reported cases of illness “despite extensive testing for numerous potential microbial and chemical adulterants.”
- In a statement to Food Dive, General Mills spokesperson Andrea Williamson said the cereal giant fully cooperated with the FDA and that it has “investigated concerns across our Lucky Charms manufacturing facilities and have not found any evidence of consumer illness tied to our products.”
- The closure of the investigation, which dates back to April, comes despite consumers continuing to post about how they believe the cereal made them sick on the website iwaspoisoned.com.
Despite the commotion on social media and negative publicity faced by General Mills over claims of foodborne illness linked to Lucky Charms, the FDA investigation appears to find that they did not have substance.
The agency enlisted the help of four states’ health departments — Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan and New York — to help with the investigation by interviewing consumers, the New York Post reported. And General Mills offered coupons worth $7 of the cost of select cereals to consumers who reported illness, consumers told the publication.
Illnesses linked to dry cereal are not common, as it is fully cooked. Yet the number of consumers that reported feeling sick after eating Lucky Charms this year led some to believe that the product would be recalled.
Over 8,500 people have self-reported that they fell ill after eating Lucky Charms to website iwaspoisoned.com so far in 2022, CEO Patrick Quade told Food Dive in an emailed statement. This compares to only 36 having reported illness from the cereal to the website during the same period in 2021. Consumers on the website have reported experiencing symptoms including nausea, diarrhea and stomach cramps.
“Many of our community have expressed disappointment with the outcome of the investigation — we sympathize. We encourage consumers to continue to speak up,” Quade said. “We collaborate closely with regulators, and in many cases, consumer reporting can be the difference in identifying and resolving issues, and helping keep our food supply safe for all."
Past cases of foodborne illness linked to cereal have resulted in a recall. In 2018, Kellogg voluntarily recalled Honey Smacks cereal. According to the FDA, 135 consumers reported being sickened in the multistate outbreak, with 34 hospitalizations.