Organic Consumers Association

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Breakfast Cereals Don't Need Cancer Warnings, California Court Rules

Cereals like Cheerios and Grape-Nuts Flakes contain a chemical that researchers have identified as a possible cause of cancer. The cereals also contain whole grains, which the government wants Americans to consume.

A state appeals court weighed those conflicting factors and found the balance in favor of the federal government’s whole-grain assessment. Cereals produced by Post, General Mills and Kellogg do not have to carry cancer-warning labels under California’s Proposition 65, the court said, because the labels could discourage consumers from buying healthy foods.

Letters from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to California health officials, written in 2003 and 2006 and never retracted, “contained persuasive reasoning why (warnings on whole-grain cereals) would mislead consumers and lead to health detriments,” the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles said Monday in a 3-0 ruling.

The cereals contain the chemical acrylamide, but so do other foods, the court noted.

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