- General Mills announced it is doubling the amount of vitamin D to 20% of the recommended daily value in several of its most popular cereals. The first two products to feature the change are Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, while Lucky Charms, Honey Nut Cheerios and Cocoa Puffs will follow in the coming weeks, the company said.
- The move comes after the FDA allowed for greater fortification of the nutrient earlier this year, when it decided 560 IU per 100 grams of vitamin D3 is now allowed in cereal products.
- General Mills said the nutrient will boost the better-for-you benefits of its products, citing CDC data which found 96% of Americans do not reach the recommended amount of vitamin D.
As consumers increasingly value products with a health halo, General Mills is bringing an undervalued nutrient into its cereal products like Lucky Charms, Trix and Cookie Crisp to boost its nutritional profile.
People naturally produce vitamin D with sunlight exposure, and can also get the nutrient through seafood, milk, and egg yolks, according to Healthline. Doctors recommend 20 micrograms per day.
General Mills said adding the nutrient to its “Big G” cereals gives parents a more nutritious food to feed their children in the morning that they are already familiar with.
“Doubling the Vitamin D content of our Big G Cereals is just another step in our continued commitment to providing affordable, accessible nutrition because we know that breakfast doesn’t have to be complicated or break the bank – and it can be as easy as a beloved bowl of cereal,” said Amy Cohn, the senior nutrition manager at General Mills, in a statement.
General Mills’ main competitor, Kellogg, said it filed the initial petition to the FDA to up the amount of the nutrient allowed in products three years ago.
The nutritional value of breakfast cereal has been questioned in recent history. Kellogg and Post each settled class action lawsuits, for $20 million and $15 million respectively, in the last five years for branding their cereals as healthy despite containing added sugar. This limited the labeling the companies could do, barring them from using terms like “healthy” and “less processed.”
It’s unclear whether cereal can truly become “healthy” without major ingredient reformulations. Based on the FDA’s new guidelines, a food product can only be classified as healthy if it hits a baseline amount of nutrients, and limits the amount of added sugar.