Wheaties and other breakfast foods are fortified with metallic iron, and they react to magnets.
1. Wheaties Cereal Can Be Levitated With Magnets
2. Wheaty cereals fortified with Iron stick to magnets
Hoax or Fact:
Certain stories and videos doing rounds online since few years purport to show that the popular breakfast food Wheaties Cereal, fortified with Iron, actually Stick to Magnets. Yes, it is a fact that Wheaties and other fortified cereals contain fragments of metallic Iron that do get attracted to a powerful magnet.
One such widespread claim comes from a Jan 2014 article on Natural News website naturalnews.com that came with the title "Wheaties cereal found to contain so many metal fragments that they can be levitated with magnets". The Health Ranger and Editor of Natural News, Mike Adams reveals that a Natural News Forensic Food Lab investigation has found Wheaties breakfast cereal contains so many microscopic fragments of metal (Iron) that individual flakes can be lifted and carried using common magnets. They uploaded the demonstrative video to YouTube (first one in this article) and also showed microscopic photos showing metal fragments in the Wheaties cereal (third picture in Image Gallery).
Moreover, Mike Adams, the lab director and food scientist expressed scepticism about the formulation of the Wheaties cereal, saying "Adding shards of metal to a cereal is not nutritionally equivalent to nutritive minerals formed during the growth of grain-producing plants." He also added that the Bioavailability (ease with which any nutrient can make its way from the food you eat into your body) is vastly different. It is to suggest that it is not equivalent to nutritional ionic iron as it comes available in natural form for human body to absorb, and that it could have dangerous health implications.
It is not uncommon that many breakfast cereals are fortified with Metallic Iron as mineral supplement, which is added to the cereal as tiny particles of food grade iron before packaging. As described on Royal Society of Chemistry website rsc.org, the claim in question is in fact a common science experiment, wherein the Iron in the cereal can be extracted from a suspension of crushed cereal in water using a magnet. Not just Wheaties, Total and Kellogg's Special K breakfast cereals contain such Iron, and as shown in the second video, it can be collected by a high power magnet by adding water to the cereals.
Iron Fortification Not Harmful
As suggested in a WHO document, Iron fortification is adding iron compounds to food products in order to increase iron in food, which is one of the most important micro nutrients. Food grade iron powders are however of different grades that is suitable for food contact or for use as an iron fortificant. To fortify cereals and also some other dry foods, elemental iron powders are often used in a number of countries. Nonetheless, the bioavailabilities of the different forms of elemental iron depends on the size, shape and surface area of the iron particles, as well as the composition of the meals in which it is consumed. Although the bioavailabilities are not well established, and further testing is going on, there is no evidence that the Iron added to Wheaties and other cereals is harmful for human consumption.