What's in a name? Cheerios Protein only has 'smidgen' more than original, lawsuit says

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Cheerios Protein doesn't live up to what it claims – but it does have a lot of sugar, according to a class-action lawsuit filed this week by a consumer advocacy group.

The lawsuit alleges Golden Valley-based General Mills falsely markets Cheerios Protein as being much higher in protein than original Cheerios, with the Center for Science in Public Interest (CSPI), which filed the lawsuit, saying it only has a "smidgen" more.

The main difference between the two cereals is Cheerios Protein has 17 times as much sugar than the original, CSPI says.

Cheerios Protein has 4 grams more protein than original Cheerios, and that's mainly due to the cereal having a larger serving size: 55 grams compared to 27 grams in regular Cheerios, CSPI alleges. In a 200-calorie serving of each cereal, there's just about the same amount of protein – a difference of .7 grams.

But General Mills disagrees; in a press statement to BringMeTheNews, the company said: "We don’t normally respond to these publicity-seeking lawsuits from CSPI – but we do reject their comparison."

An equal amount of Cheerios Protein has 18 percent more protein by weight than original Cheerios and meets the Food and Drug Administration's standard of a "good source of high quality protein," while original cheerios does not meet the standard, the company says.

"Cheerios Protein is accurately labeled — and provides a good source of protein in every labeled serving," the statement said.

General Mills launched Cheerios Protein last year in an effort to capitalize on changing consumer tastes, which have shifted to protein-packed foods and away from the traditional cereals it's known for.

This isn't the first Cheerios lawsuit General Mills has faced this fall. On Oct. 30, two consumers filed a lawsuit against General Mills following its recall of gluten-free Cheerios, the Consumerist says.

The gluten-free Cheerios actually contained wheat, which prompted the recall in early October. The Consumerist says it's not unusual for lawsuits to come after large-scale recalls like this.

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