We have heard the rumblings over the past month or so….Chex is coming out with a gluten free oatmeal! It is already rolling out on store shelves now and you may be wondering what it’s all about.
Last month the team at Chex gave me free samples of their three packages of instant oatmeals (maple and brown sugar, apple cinnamon and a variety pack that included plain flavor), plus I got a bag of their regular gluten free oatmeal.
I tried all four products and I think they are a great alternative for gluten-free folks. The flavored instant oatmeal options, while too sweet for me, are a good replacement for people who want a gluten-free version of those hot cereals. Both the Maple and Brown Sugar and the Apple Cinnamon taste just as I remember as a kid.
Now as an adult, I prefer the regular gluten-free oatmeal where I add a little half and half and brown sugar. It was very creamy and yummy! I have not yet tried it for cookies but hope to soon.
In the past, the price point has been very expensive for a large bag of oats. This brand brings it to a more manageable level: all of the oatmeal products are priced between $3.00-$4.00. The bag of oatmeal is 16 ounces. For comparison, you can get a 32 ounce bag of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats for $7.49. So roughly the price and amount of oats is cut in half when you purchase the Chex version (a good size when non-gf friends and family want to make you gluten-free oatmeal cookies and don’t want to hold onto a big bag forever). As for the instant oatmeal, it has 6 bags inside each box.
I recently found these products in the oatmeal section of my grocery store, NOT in the gluten-free section.
Gluten Free Oats
I had a few questions about labeling. The front of the package says gluten free. On the back and under the ingredients it says gluten free. But IN the actual ingredients list it says: WHOLE GRAIN OATS (to be fair, Bob’s Red Mill’s GF Oats lists it the same way according to their website).
Normally, when looking at a product’s ingredient list if it just says oats, rather than gluten free oats, that is a red flag for me. So I asked them about why they don’t say “gluten free whole grain oats” in the ingredient listing.
Chex said, “FDA regulations require listing the common and usual name of ingredients, but don’t allow extraneous language among the ingredients, such as the phrase ‘gluten-free.’ Therefore, we’ve highlighted gluten-free labels on front of pack and back of pack in Chex Cereal and Oatmeal, but not in the actual ingredient deck.”
“We strictly adhere to [Food and Drug Administration] FDA regulations for the ingredient deck found on our food packaging, which indicates that the ingredients within the product meet the qualifications for gluten free. Consumers can also be confident that we do label ‘gluten free’ on the rest of the package, which indicates that all the ingredients within it, not just the oats (in such cases as the instant oatmeal packs) , are gluten free.”
Another item that many gluten free people are concerned about is processing and handling of the oats in a gluten-free environment. When asked, Chex replied: “Whenever we manufacture gluten-free products like both Chex Cereal and Oatmeal, we take specific steps to avoid opportunities for gluten or gluten-containing ingredients to get into our products, processes and equipment. General Mills has stringent programs and precautions in place to assure the product meets gluten-free requirements.”
“Additionally, General Mills performs testing at the ingredient and finished product level to test for the presence of gluten. Finally, gluten-free products are routinely analyzed to assure ongoing compliance with the FDA proposed regulation for ‘gluten free,’ which require that gluten levels must test below 20 parts per million. All General Mills products labeled as ‘gluten free’ meet or exceed this standard.”
I do think this product helps bring gluten free oatmeal to the masses. It is from a mainstream brand, shoppers will likely see it in the cereal section and the price point isn’t so high that you feel like it will break the bank just to try it. But as a consumer, I would still like to see “gluten-free whole grain oats” in the ingredient list.