What’s In Our Food? Study Finds Traces Of Glyphosate In Some Products

It’s not the headline you want to read over your morning bowl of cereal, or ever, for that matter. A Canadian study has found the very controversial chemical glyphosate in more than a dozen different foods, including General Mills’ Cheerios and Kellogg’s Froot Loops.

I read the CTV News story just before making my kids breakfast, and as you can imagine, I didn’t feel very good about it. I try my best to feed my family whole, healthy foods, and stories like these make me realize I still have no idea what actually goes into our bodies.

The study was commissioned by Environmental Defence Canada and independently conducted by California-based Anresco Laboratories. It reveals that glyphosate, the potentially harmful weed killer found in Roundup and other gardening products, is present in trace amounts in several common foods.

Of the 18 products tested, only four came back as glyphosate-free. Here’s the list of affected foods:

  • Catelli Healthy Harvest Multigrain Spaghetti
  • Cheerios
  • Fontaine Sante Roasted Garlic Hummus
  • Froot Loops
  • Kraft Dinner Original Macaroni and Cheese
  • PC Blue Menu Tortilla Chips 100% Whole Grain
  • Pogo Original (breading only)
  • Quaker Large Flake Oats
  • Ritz Original Crackers
  • Sabra Classic Hummus
  • The Original Oreo Cookie
  • Tim Hortons Chocolate Glazed Timbit
  • Tim Hortons Sesame Seed Bagel
  • Unico Canned Chickpeas

How’s that for scary? Now, keep in mind only TRACE amounts of glyphosate were found in these products (you can find the total amount in the actual study). We’re talking parts per billion; a tiny amount that is far below the levels deemed safe by Health Canada.

But the fact that there’s ANY amount of a controversial weed killer in my food makes me uncomfortable.

Response From Bayer

Ask Bayer, the new parent company of Monsanto, what it thinks about the study, and it will tell you the results are irrelevant. It maintains that glyphosate is completely safe and that it has over 40 years and 800 scientific studies to prove it.

In a statement issued to CTV News, Bayer says it’s not surprised trace amount of glyphosate have been found in our foods; according to the company, the chemical is widely-used and necessary to keep weeds and pests away from crops.

Bayer also broke down just how little of the chemical is actually in the tested products:

“For chickpea based foods, the highest reported value was 760 parts per billion in hummus. At this level, an adult would have to eat 28 kg of hummus every day for life to reach PMRA’s allowable exposure limit.  That’s over a kilogram of hummus every hour of every day for life without sleeping.

For wheat-based foods (744 parts per billion in tortillas), an adult would have to eat 28 kg of tortillas every day for the life to reach PMRA’s allowable exposure limit.  That’s 430 tortillas per day. Every day.”

CTV interviewed a professor of environmental toxicology at the University of Guelph, who agrees the level of herbicides found in the products is “extraordinarily low.” Basically, Len Ritter says we should take the report with a grain of salt.

And Health Canada’s most recent study of glyphosate, done in 2017, found that exposure to low levels of the chemical was “unlikely to pose a human cancer risk,” approving its use for another 15 years.

But Not All Minds Think Alike

The World Health Organization still stands behind its 2015 assessment describing glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

And the study also comes on the heels of a very big decision by a California jury finding Monsanto responsible for a man’s terminal cancer. Dewayne Johnson says his exposure to weed killers such as Roundup at his job as a school groundskeeper caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Monsanto has been ordered to pay him $289 million in damages. The company faces another 5,000 similar lawsuits.  

Resistance to the use of weed killers containing glyphosate is mounting around the world, and Environmental Defence Canada is hoping its latest study will further mobilize us.

With the idea that we all have a right to foods and products that aren’t contaminated with potentially harmful chemicals, the group is urging Canadians to demand that the government better protect us.

You can join the movement here.

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Catherine Sherriffs

Editor at Garden Culture Magazine

Catherine is a Canadian award-winning journalist who worked as a reporter and news anchor in Montreal’s radio and television scene for 10 years. A graduate of Concordia University, she left the hustle and bustle of the business after starting a family. Now, she’s the editor and a writer for Garden Culture Magazine while also enjoying being a mom to her three young kids. Her interests include great food, gardening, fitness, animals, and anything outdoors.