Here’s something you probably never thought you’d ask, “Is there weed killer in children’s cereals and snacks?” But sadly, the answer to this question is yes. A new study found that the chemical glyphosate—an ingredient in some weed killers—has been detected in some oats, snack bars and cereals. Um, yikes. Also? Gross. More importantly: how can popular food manufacturers sell products that contain the same poison that a weed killer like Roundup contains?
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) commissioned independent laboratory tests to evaluate the amount of glyphosate in popular oat-based products. The study found levels of the chemical in 43 of the 45 conventionally-grown oat products that they assessed. Nearly three-fourths of the products that tested positive for the chemical had levels that the EWG considers higher than what they should be.
Before you go and toss all your oat-containing products and buy a cart filled with organic versions, one-third of the 16 organically grown oat products that were tested also had the chemicals—but in levels below the health benchmark number that the EWG sets.
So how did the poisonous chemical get into the oat products and why isn’t someone recalling them? Well, it’s not really that simple. The chemical isn’t directly added to the foods. Instead, it’s sprayed onto crops prior to harvesting.
According to the EWG, over 250 million pounds of the chemical is sprayed onto corn and soybeans annually. These crops are typically genetically-engineered to withstand the powerful chemical. And that means they don’t contain the highest amounts of glyphosate. But wheat, oats and barely—that aren’t genetically-engineered and don’t have the same protection as GMO corn or soybeans—are increasingly at risk.
Not only can the chemical end up on oat-containing products after a direct pre-harvest spray, but glyphosate can run or drift from one field into another, cross-contaminating crops that are thought to be organic.
What can you do to protect your family from this cancer-causing chemical? The EPA estimates that children 1 to 2 years old have the highest exposure levels, which is obviously super-scary. As of now the EPA sets safety standards for chemicals that could potentially be used in food sources. And they believe that the glyphosate levels aren’t entirely unsafe, so that makes your choices fairly limited.
You could cut all oats out of your kiddo’s diet. But that probably won’t, or shouldn’t, happen. Or you could go all organic. But, as this study revealed, that might not get you a totally chemical-free product. When it comes down to it, be an informed and careful consumer—with everything your child eats, not just oats.
Featured Photo: Hal Gatewood via Unsplash