Quaker Oats’ claim that its oatmeal products are “100% natural” is the subject of a class action lawsuit. The company’s use of glyphosate, the herbicide in Monsanto’s best-selling weed killer, Roundup, was found in samples of the oatmeal.
The lawsuit comes just weeks after an analysis of popular breakfast foods found glyphosate in half of the foods sampled, including organic products.
The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Courts in New York and California, says the PepsiCo-owned Quaker Oats company uses glyphosate on its oats— tests found the levels of the herbicide to be below federal guidelines for human safety—making any “natural” claims false and misleading.
Tests commissioned by the plaintiffs found glyphosate levels of 1.18 parts per million in Quaker Oats Quick 1-Minute. “This is roughly 4 percent of the 30 parts per million that the Environmental Protection Agency allows in cereal grains,” reports the New York Times.
“There is nothing unlawful about Quaker Oats’ growing and processing methods,” the suit says. “What is unlawful is Quaker’s claim that Quaker Oats is something that it is not in order to capitalize on growing consumer demand for healthful, natural products.”
Quaker Oats contends that the company isn’t adding glyphosate after harvest, but the farmers who grow the grains are likely administering the herbicide.
“Any levels of glyphosate that may remain are trace amounts and significantly below any limits which have been set by the E.P.A. as safe for human consumption,” the company said.
Glyphosate is commonly used on genetically engineered crops, such as Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybeans. But no genetically modified oats have been approved for commercial cultivation. Glyphosate is routinely sprayed on crops like oats, however, in order to help dry out the grain before harvesting.
Last year, glyphosate was listed by the World Health Organization as a “probable” carcinogen.
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Oatmeal image via Shutterstock