Weed-Killing Chemical Found in Even More Kid-Friendly Cereals, Granola Bars

Learn about which of your kids' favorite snacks may actually pose a health threat to them.
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ByStephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Jun 2019
cheerios breakfast cereal in bowl
Photo: iStock

Last year, the nonprofit the Environmental Working Group (EWG) conducted tests showing the presence of a weed-killer, glyphosate, in certain General Mills and Quaker Oats products. The weed-killer, produced by Bayer-Monsanto, has “troubling” levels of glyphosate, according to the report. Now, a new round of tests from EWG shows the weed-killer was detected in 21 cereal and snack products, and all but four products contained levels of glyphosate higher than what EWG scientists consider safe.

The EWG children’s health benchmark is 160 parts per billion (ppb). The two highest levels of glyphosate were found in Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch, with 833 ppb, and Cheerios, with 729 ppb. Below is the breakdown of results on all 21 products tested:

  • Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch—833 ppb
  • Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal—729 ppb
  • Nature Valley Crunchy granola bars, Maple Brown Sugar—566 ppb
  • Nature Valley Granola Cups, Almond Butter—529 ppb
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios— 400 ppb
  • Nature Valley Baked Oat Bites—389 ppb
  • Nature Valley Crunchy granola bars, Oats and Honey—320 ppb
  • Nature Valley Crunchy granola bars, Peanut Butter—312 ppb
  • Nature Valley Granola Cups, Peanut Butter Chocolate—297 ppb
  • Cheerios Oat Crunch Cinnamon—283 ppb
  • Nature Valley Fruit & Nut Chewy Trail Mix Granola Bars, Dark Chocolate Cherry—275 ppb
  • Nature Valley Granola Protein Oats n Dark Chocolate—261 ppb
  • Multi Grain Cheerios—216 ppb
  • Nature Valley Soft-Baked Oatmeal Squares, Blueberry—206 ppb
  • Fiber One Oatmeal Raisin soft-baked cookies—204 ppb
  • Nature Valley Granola Peanut Butter Creamy & Crunchy—198 ppb
  • Nature Valley Biscuits with Almond Butter—194 ppb
  • Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Nut granola bars, Cashew—158 ppb
  • Honey Nut Cheerios—147 ppb
  • Nature Valley Soft-Baked Oatmeal Squares, Cinnamon Brown Sugar—124 ppb
  • Nature Valley Fruit & Nut Chewy Trail Mix Granola Bars, Dark Chocolate & Nut—76 ppb

Glyphosate is used mostly as a weed killer on genetically modified corn and soybeans, but it’s also sprayed on oats just before harvest as a drying agent. It kills the crop and dries it out so it can be harvested sooner, which may increase the likelihood that glyphosate ends up in these foods. Since last August, the EWG says three California juries have awarded more than $2.2 billion total in three separate verdicts against Bayer-Monsanto over claims that Roundup, a herbicide that uses glyphosate as the active ingredient, caused cancer and that Monsanto knew about the risks and covered it up.

Since the EWG has brought these findings to light, it has raised the million dollar question: Does glyphosate cause cancer? Certain scientific groups and reports say there is a link between the two, but others aren’t sold. Most published research has concluded that the chemical isn’t a health threat at low levels, which is how consumers are typically exposed to it. The Environmental Protection Agency, the European Commission, Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency and the World Health Organization’s International Program on Chemical Safety have determined that glyphosate does not present a public health concern, according to a Business Insider report.

In an emailed statement to CBS News, General Mills says food safety is a “top priority” for the company, and 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 statement reads. “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.

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