They were promised a “magically delicious” experience.
Instead, fans of one of America’s most popular breakfast cereals started complaining earlier this year of experiencing symptoms that would gag a leprechaun.
The suspect cereal is General Mills’ Lucky Charms, a sugary-sweet concoction of glazed oat bits mixed with colorful, crunchy little marshmallows cut in cute little shapes: “hearts … moons … stars … clovers,” as the cereal’s tiny, green-garbed mascot has crooned in his lilting Irish brogue on Saturday-morning commercials almost since the dawn of the television era.
Bright, cartoonish boxes of Lucky Charms have been a fixture on American breakfast tables for more than five decades. Kiplinger ranked it in 2018 as the sixth-most-popular dry cereal in the country, with sales of $283.4 million that year.
WARNING: If you’re reading this over your morning meal, stop right here. Trust us, you do NOT want to know any of the details that follow.
Perhaps the worst symptom of all was bright-green diarrhea.
“My boyfriend and I both suffered horrible stomachaches and diarrhea that was bright green,” wrote one Indiana resident. “Nausea has been off and on. Stomach pains still after 24 hours.”
The complaints have come in from states across the country, from Connecticut to California, and even Canada.
Although IWasPoisoned.com encourages consumers to describe their symptoms, many of the respondents are overly enthusiastic on that score, providing far too much information about their intestinal activity. (Hint: Readers may want to make liberal use of the feature on posts that allows them to click on the option to “See Less.”)
Still, the detailed posts might yield some clues as to the root of the problem.
“I can 100% say it is the Lucky Charms causing this because I literally don’t eat any[thing] else,” said one customer from Covington, Georgia, who confessed to indulging in a “Lucky Charms obsession” and eating only Lucky Charms several times a day for a period of time.
That report, from three weeks ago, is one of the posts that provides extremely detailed descriptions of the gastrointestinal distress that followed.
Despite the alarming symptoms, the government agency in charge of food safety has given the product a clean bill of health.
The Food and Drug Administration, without specifically naming Lucky Charms, announced it had closed its investigation this week after being unable to locate a problem with the product.
“The investigation associated with Dry Cereal … has ended and the FDA investigation has closed with no pathogen or cause of the self-reported illnesses identified, despite extensive testing for numerous potential microbial and chemical adulterants,” the agency reported Wednesday.
The FDA reported only 558 complaints, despite IWasPoisoned.com collecting over 10 times that number — and reports to the website have continued to come in even in recent days.
The manufacturer is satisfied with the results of the investigation, according to the New York Post.
“We have fully cooperated with the FDA,” General Mills spokeswoman Andrea Williams told the Post in a statement. “We have investigated concerns across our Lucky Charms manufacturing facilities and have not found any evidence of consumer illness tied to our products.”
Others have questioned the FDA’s decision to close its investigation, according to the outlet.
“Even though [the FDA] didn’t find a smoking gun, it would be nice to know whether the cereal is considered safe to eat,” Hal King, founder of consulting firm Public Health Innovations, told the Post.
“If people are still reporting an illness and they can’t define what it is, you and I would question why are people still reporting this and what’s the government’s role in investigating this,” he said.
Some customers suggested the cause might be something other than the cereal. One observer responded to the “Lucky Charms obsession” customer with a few words of advice.
“Unless you’re just eating dry cereal I think you might be leaving out an important detail in your post,” the reader wrote in the comments section. “I used to get the same symptoms every time I used good ol’ cows milk. I switched to almond milk and it’s been all good ever since.
“Also I love them marshmallows too but in large enough quantities the dyes in them will make stuff green at the end of the rainbow.”
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