Roundup Weed Killer Found in All Kids' Oat Cereals Tested

Public Domain. StockSnap

EWG tested 28 brands of conventional oat-based cereals; they all had glyphosate residue, most of them above healthy standards.

Earlier this year, environmental health watchdog, Environmental Working Group, tested 45 conventional oat-based cereal products and found glyphosate in 43 of them. They've conducted a second round of testing and the results are as grim as the first time around. In the second set of tests, glyphosate – the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer – was found in all 28 samples.

Glyphosate is a systemic, broad-spectrum herbicide that kills things not genetically modified to resist it. (That is, it doesn't kill the genetically modified plants grown exclusively from Monsanto seeds.)

While the companies that make the products in question claim that there is no cause for alarm since the levels fall within regulatory limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency, the levels were nonetheless higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health with an acceptable margin of safety.

"Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s safe," notes EWG. "Federal government standards for pesticides in food are often outdated, not based on the best and most current science. The EPA’s standards for pesticides and other chemicals are also heavily influenced by lobbying from industry."

Glyphosate is the most commonly used herbicide across the globe. It is great at killing weeds ... and that's not all. It is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as “probably carcinogenic” to people. It is also listed by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a chemical known to the state to cause cancer.

The independent lab found that all 28 samples had levels above EWG’s health benchmark of 160 parts per billion (ppb). One product had a level of 2,837 ppb ... nearly 18 times higher than EWG’s children’s health benchmark. EWG's benchmark is based on the risks of lifetime exposure, because when a person consumes a small bit every day, it accumulates.

“How many bowls of cereal and oatmeal have American kids eaten that came with a dose of weed killer?" asks EWG President Ken Cook. “... if those companies would just switch to oats that aren’t sprayed with glyphosate, parents wouldn’t have to wonder if their kids’ breakfasts contained a chemical linked to cancer."

The idea that chemicals linked to cancer our in our kids' food is really just dreadful. The government standards are outdated and influenced by industry, and the bottom line is that we just shouldn't be feeding our kids weed killer, no matter the level.

As Cook says, "Glyphosate and other cancer-causing chemicals simply don’t belong in children’s food, period.”

You can read more about the report, see which products were tested, and sign a petition at EWG.

Oh, and in the meantime, buy organic oat cereals.

Update: Since the publication of this story, Quaker has sent a statement, which we are including here:

We proudly stand by the safety and quality of our Quaker products. Quaker does not add glyphosate during any part of the milling process. Glyphosate is commonly used by farmers across the industry who apply it pre-harvest. Once the oats are transported to us, we put them through our rigorous process that thoroughly cleanses them (de-hulling, cleaning, roasting and flaking). Any minimal levels of glyphosate that may remain in finished products where oats are an ingredient are significantly below regulatory limits and well within compliance of the safety standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, Health Canada and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as safe for human consumption. The EWG report artificially creates a “safe level” for glyphosate that is detached from those that have been established by responsible regulatory bodies in an effort to grab headlines, and has the potential to falsely alarm consumers, leading them to avoid consumption of many oat-based foods that are proven to be beneficial for the human diet. We believe EWG’s approach is invalid, and we stand behind our statement that the Quaker products tested by EWG are safe. Producing healthy, wholesome food is Quaker's number one priority, and we've been doing that for more than 140 years.