General Mills forced to recall 1.8 million boxes of gluten-free Cheerios Getty

Food manufacturer General Mills has recalled 1.8 million boxes of gluten-free Cheerios after it was discovered they may contain traces of wheat flour. The company announced on 5 October that the breakfast cereal could have "adverse health effects".

General Mills issued the statement on its social media pages, as well as on its website. Certain Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios produced in July at the company's facility in Lodi, California, could have had wheat flour introduced into what was meant to be gluten-free cereal. A warning was issued to customers with wheat allergies, coeliac disease or gluten intolerance to not consume the products with specific code dates.

"As president of General Mills' cereal business, I am embarrassed and truly sorry," Jim Murphy wrote in a blog post on the company's website. "We sincerely apologise to the gluten-free community and to anyone who may have been impacted."

Murphy said the error occurred in an "isolated incident involving purely human error". General Mills is offering customers replacements or full refunds if they have bought one of the boxes and said no other cereals produced by the company have been affected. It started shipping five flavours of gluten-free Cheerios in July.

No details have been released on how much the recall is going to cost. However, JP Morgan analyst Ken Goldman told Associated Press about 1% of the company's Cheerios production for the year had been affected. He said: "Our biggest concern is over reputational risk, because the new gluten-free Cheerios just launched."