Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Red River cereal returning after label change

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A uniquely-Canadian breakfast cereal that's been absent from grocery store shelves for the first time since 1924 will be back on the market this month, but it may have lost some of its brand loyalty to another Canadian upstart that's only been around since 1929.

In September, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued an allergy alert for Red River hot breakfast cereal, stating the product contained soy that wasn't on the label. The warning said consumption of the cereal could cause a life-threatening reaction in people with allergies to soy, although it said no illnesses had been reported.

Smucker Foods of Canada voluntarily recalled the familiar red boxes from Canadian supermarket shelves and the space they occupied has remained empty since then.

For Jane Munro of Toronto and many others like her who typically begin each morning with a bowl of the grainy porridge, there were few answers about when it would return.

"I find it annoying that it's taken this long," said Munro, 44. "A lot of people call it bird food. I like the texture, and it's really good for you."

Maribeth Badertscher, a spokeswoman for Smucker Foods in the U.S., said Red River will be shipping again to Canadian stores this month. The product would remain the same, she said, but new packaging will have a warning that the product contains soy.

Badertscher said the delay was due to the time it took to change packaging.

According to Smucker Foods, the cereal was first made in Manitoba's Red River Valley in 1924. The company that made it was purchased by Maple Leaf Foods in 1928 and Robin Hood Multifoods acquired the Red River brand in 1995.

In western Canadian provinces, there's a similar porridge called Sunny Boy, which has been made in Camrose, Alta. since 1929. And since the Red River recall, the makers of Sunny Boy say they've seen a big increase in sales of their cereal.

Brad Shapka, one of the owners of Sunny Boy Foods Ltd., said Sunny Boy is looking to expand east, and hopes some of the exposure and publicity his company has received from the Red River recall will help in that effort.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 7, 2011 D1

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