A report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that 26 of the 28 cereal, snack bar and oat products it tested had trace amounts of an herbicide found in a weed killer. This is the second round of testing EWG has done.
The earlier report that came out in August found similar results in 31 oat-based foods.
The weed killer, Roundup, is a controversial product since its main ingredient is glyphosate, an herbicide whose carcinogenic properties have been heavily debated.
The EPA said in 2017 that glyphosate "is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans," but other organizations disagree. For example, the EWG benchmark for how much glyphosate is OK in food is much stricter than EPA standards. In addition, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined in 2015 that glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic to humans."
And in August, the maker of the weed killer herbicide, Monsanto, was ordered to pay $289 million in damages to a groundskeeper who said the glyphosate-based Roundup caused his cancer. The payout was lowered to $78 million but the ruling remained the same.
The EWG’s health benchmark for glyphosate levels is 160 parts per billion, or ppb.
Here is the list of products the EWG tested and how much glyphosate they contain, some of which meet the EWG's benchmark and some which do not:
In response to the latest report, Quaker Oats released the following statement:
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.
The full report can be found online on the EWG website.
Susan Gonzalez is a digital producer and reporter for the E.W. Scripps national team. Follow her on Twitter @TheNewsan.