Roundup Ingredient Found In Popular Children's Cereals, Snacks

June 12, 2019 - 12:32 pm

(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Traces of a Roundup ingredient has been detected in 21 oat-based children’s breakfast cereals and snack products including Honey Nut Cheerios and various Nature Valley granola bars, according to findings by an environmental advocacy organization.

The ingredient, glyphosate - cancer-causing ingredient - was found in the General Mills food products after the Environmental Working Group conducted tests on sampled breakfast cereals and snacks in July and October last year.  The ingredient is used mostly on genetically-modified corn and soybeans, but also is sprayed on oats just before harvest, according to an EWG release.

“All but four products contained levels of glyphosate higher than what EWG scientists consider protective for children’s health with a sufficient margin of safety,” the EWG press release continued. “It kills the crop, drying it out so it can be harvested sooner, which increases the likelihood that glyphosate ends up in foods children love to eat.”

The EWG set its children’s health benchmark at 160 parts per billion, or ppb. Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch and Cheerios both exceeded that level with 833 ppb and 729 ppb, respectively.

Major food companies like General Mills continue to sell popular children’s breakfast cereals and other foods contaminated with troubling levels of glyphosate, the cancer-causing ingredient in the herbicide Roundup.
EWG, from tests in May 2019

The four products that tested below the EWG's threshold of 160 parts per billion are: 

  • Honey Nut Cheerios
  • Nature Valley Fruit & Nut Chewy Trail Mix Granola Bars, Dark Chocolate & Nut
  • Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Nut granola bars, Cashew
  • Nature Valley Soft-Baked Oatmeal Squares, Cinnamon Brown Sugar

The presence of glyphosate raises concerns because it was classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” in March 2015 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a division of the World Health Organization. In 2017, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment added the herbicide to the list of “chemicals known to the state to cause cancer.”  

Since last year, California juries ordered Bayer-Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, to pay more than $2.2 billion in damages after plaintiffs filed lawsuits claiming the weedkiller caused or contributed to cancer.  The EWG has started a petition asking food companies to stop using products with glyphosate. 

“The only way to quickly remove this cancer-causing weedkiller from foods marketed to children is for companies like General Mills and Quaker to use oats from farmers who do not use glyphosate as a desiccant,” the EWG stated. 

General Mills said food safety is a "top priority" for the company, which said it's working to minimize the use of pesticides on the ingredients it uses.

"Most crops grown in fields use some form of pesticides and trace amounts are found in the majority of food we all eat," the company said in an emailed statement. "Experts at the FDA and EPA determine the safe levels for food products," which it adheres to, as well as farmers that grow the crops, it added.