Parents of allergic kids concerned over new peanut butter Cheerios

(General Mills)

January 12, 2012 1:36:54 PM PST
Jodi Loftis, of Albuquerque, N.M., already warns her daughter of certain candies and granola bars that may contain peanut ingredients. Now she can add another food to her watch list: Cheerios.

General Mills has recently introduced Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter cereal, which the manufacturer touts as allowing consumers to "(i)ndulge in real peanut butter taste without derailing your diet."

But Loftis and other parents with children who have peanut allergies worry that the new product could, in fact, derail their kids' peanut-free diets if playmates share their snacks with them.

"Even as a 9 year-old, you can continue to tell her everyday, every week, make sure you don't share any foods with anybody," Loftis said, "but sometimes it's hard for a 9 year-old to remember that."

Other parents have voiced concerns of cross-contamination at facilities manufacturing both traditional Cheerios, a long-favored snack among toddlers, and peanut butter cheerios.

In a statement, General Mills said the company could say with "complete confidence" that Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter will not cross-contaminate other Cheerios varieties.

"General Mills employs the most stringent allergen control practices in the industry," the company said.

The Cheerios fears come on the heels of the death last week of a Virginia first grader who suffered an allergic reaction during recess. Her mother told reporters she had a peanut allergy. Police reported today that she had received a peanut from another student who was unaware of her allergy.

Pennsylvania mom and allergy safety advocate Gina Clowes said the girl's death may be making parents extra anxious about the new Cheerios.

"Parents are very very scared. It just brings to light the reality of food allergies," said Gina Clowes, who runs the online support group and chairs the national advocacy committee of the Food Allergy Initiative.

Clowes said that within the last two weeks, she's heard from some 60 parents worried about the new Cheerios.

For the full story from ABCNEWS.COM's Alice Gomstyn, click here.

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