Peanut Butter Cheerios Should Be Banned to Protect Peanut Allergic Kids


cheeriosIf you don't have a kid who's allergic to peanuts, the uproar over General Mills' new Peanut Butter Cheerios might seem like the latest in a long string of attempts to demonize what's been a staple in American pantries for decades. Well, let me tell you something. You're wrong, and the only reason why you have the luxury to be wrong is because you, again, don't have a kid who's allergic to peanuts.

I do have a kid who's allergic to peanuts. My son, Julian. And while at this age, he's pretty well-trained (knock wood) to ask if a cookie or a brownie or a sandwich or whatever else contains peanuts before he takes a bite, he probably wouldn't think to check if one of his buddies passed a plastic baggie of Peanut Butter Cheerios his way.

Why? Because they don't look all that different from regular Cheerios. (What's ironic is that Cheerios are one of the few snack foods most parents consider "safe.")

Fortunately for us, Julian's reactions to peanuts so far have been the kind that a good dose of Benadryl can treat; we've only had to run to the Emergency Room once. (Of course we have an Epi-Pen, just in case, because you never really know if your kid's allergy is going to get better or worse.)

But we're among the lucky ones. Some kids are so severely allergic to peanuts that one Peanut Butter Cheerio could kill them before anybody realized what was happening. Like what happened to 7-year-old Ammaria Johnson just last week: The little girl took a bite of her friend's snack on the schoolyard and died of cardiac arrest within minutes. Minutes!

And that's a grade-school kid. Peanut Butter Cheerios pose a significantly higher risk to toddlers, in my opinion. Think about it: Little kids take Cheerios with them everywhere. To the park. To the children's section at Barnes & Noble. To the zoo. On the train. Your toddler is screaming in the stroller? Here, have a bag of Cheerios. The waiter is taking forever to bring your family's lunch order? Shhh, have some Cheerios for now.

My point is this: Kids are messy eaters, and because they take Cheerios everywhere, that means stray Cheerios are everywhere kids go. Let's say your severely peanut-allergic 2-year-old spies a Cheerio on the bench at the playground. She wouldn't think twice before popping it in her mouth: Mommy gives me these!

General Mills says cross-contamination isn't a possibility, which is good to know; they also point out that other Cheerios flavors do contain nuts (Honey Nut, Banana Nut, and Oat Clusters). But there are way more kids with life-threatening allergies to peanuts than almonds, walnuts, or any other kind of nut. So that argument doesn't make a difference.

Personally, I don't think the benefit of adding another variety of Cheerios to grocery store shelves is worth risking more kids' lives.

Do you think Peanut Butter Cheerios are dangerous? Should they be banned?

Image via Gramody/Flickr

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jagam... jagamama0710

They should not be banned. I understand the fear you have as a parent of a child with this allergy but people are allergic and deathly allergic to all kinds of things. We can't just go banning everything that someone has an allergy to. 

Siste... SisterPeach

NO. and NO. and NO. and NO. and NO. and NO. and NO. and NO. 

Spoken by a women deathly allergic to shellfish- would you consider banning shrimp in restaurants because a cook who grabs the wrong spatula could kill me? What about lobster? clams? 


teach your kid not to share cheerios. My oldest is treenut allergic and knows what she can and can't share.

Gmomma25 Gmomma25

Just because some kids have allergies doesn't mean that you should ban the cereal. I agree that they should make them look different, but banning them all together is not fair to children without this allergy. Why take something away just because someone can't have it. That's is just teaching your children that it's OK to change things just because it doesn't go their way.

LizF LizF

"But there are way more kids with life-threatening allergies to peanuts than almonds, walnuts, or any other kind of nut. So that argument doesn't make a difference."

You have the luxury of saying that because your kid isn't allergic to those kinds of nuts.

Mom22... Mom22Gurls82

While I understand concerns of parents with children who suffer peanut allergies, it seems a little ridiculous to be up in arms about a new variety of Cheerios. I personally feel like it is the parents' responsibility to be vigilant about what their children eat, allergies or no. I do NOT encourage my children to share food with other children or allow them to eat food that came off the ground or wherever because of germs, not just allergy issues. You never know what type of illness another child could have, and that alone is the reason I watch my kids like a hawk when it comes to the food they eat. Sometimes, it can't be helped, I know. So before you all go crazy and all mama bear on me, I'm not saying it would never happen. I'm just saying that Cheerios are only one small blip that should be on the radar for parents of children with serious food allergies.

nonmember avatar A Mom

No. Ridiculous. It's your job to watch your kid and teach them what they can and can't have. It's not the job of General Mills. Guess what? Peanuts exist. People eat them. This is a "precious snowflake" issue, not an allergy issue. Not everyone in the world has to bend over backwards to accommodate your kid.

Izla Izla

Teach your kid not to put random food in his mouth because he has a severe allergy. Why should my kid, and countless others, be responsible for what you should be teaching your kid from get go?

No, they should not be banned. Parents need to be responsible and teach their kids something rather than expecting the rest of the world to change and take care of it for them.

And yes, 2 of my kids have severe allergies and their asthma is sensitive to any reaction. I ensure their safety and follow a strict don't touch/eat strange food.

Young... YoungHold

SisterPeach said it best.  Trying to ban PB Cheerios is as stupid as banning anything else anyone has an allergy too.


Celia... Celiacelia

How about this? Don't buy them? Teach your child to NOT take a Cheerio from just anyone, keep your child informed on what they can and can't eat.

ameri... americanmomm

I do not have a child with allergies.  I understand your concern.  However, I think Cheerios should be able to make whatever they want.  My heart goes out to those children and familes that have concerns but the arguments are weak.  It is up to us to watch our children and what they put in their mouths.  If your child has peanut allergies then cheerios will have to be something you put on the list.  Period.  Stop letting big brother come in and tell us what we can and cannot do.  Enough already.

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