You roll out of bed in the morning, stretch your legs, and shuffle to the kitchen to pour yourself some breakfast cereal while you’re still half asleep. But along with healthy complex carbs and crucial vitamins, you may be ingesting something far more toxic: weed killer.
Yep, you read that right. A new report by environmental advocacy group the Environmental Working Group (EWG) revealed many of our beloved breakfast cereals have trace amounts of glyphosate, a controversial herbicide that is the main ingredient in the weed killer Roundup.
The organization found 26 of the 28 cereals tested had levels of glyphosate “higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health.”
Honey Nut Cheerios, Quaker Simply Granola Oats, and Lucky Charms are among the cereals reported to have concerning levels of glyphosate, while Kashi Heart to Heart Organic Honey Toasted and KIND Vanilla, Blueberry Clusters with Flax Seeds are considered within limit.
Not very surprisingly, manufacturers have said their products are safe, but the EWG report warns that consuming high levels of glyphosate long-term can put you at risk of cancer.
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It’s important to note that none of the cereals tested surpassed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) limits on the herbicide. But in the report, EWG stated, “Studies regularly find that the legal limits on contaminants in food, air, drinking water, and consumer products fall short of fully protecting public health, particularly for children and other people more sensitive to the effects of toxic chemicals.”
EWG stands by a much more conservative glyphosate threshold than the EPA. However, Quaker responded to the issue with a statement that said EWG’s safe level is inconsistent with the safe level established by “responsible regulatory bodies,” and that the organization created it just to grab headlines.
“Quaker does not add glyphosate during any part of the milling process,” said the statement, which was sent to Health. “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.” Any remaining levels of glyphosate are significantly below regulatory limits, the statement said.
“We believe EWG’s approach is invalid, and we stand behind out statement that the Quaker products tested by EWG are safe,” it said.
So what does all this mean for cereal lovers? At this point, the only way to entirely avoid the possibility of consuming any amount of weed killer is by sticking to organically grown foods. Organic products might actually have more benefits than you think. A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that people who regularly eat organic food were less likely to develop cancer than those who don’t.
However, some scientists are unsure of the study’s accuracy and say the link between organic food and cancer remains unclear. “Concerns over pesticide risks should not discourage intake of conventional fruits and vegetables, especially because organic produce is often expensive and inaccessible to many populations,” an expert commentary also published in JAMA stated.
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This post was updated on October 25, 2018