A banned pesticide is found in Quaker Oats and Cheerios products.

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There may be an unexpected chemical in your cereal or oatmeal bowl.

According to recent findings from the Environmental Working Group, plant pesticides approved for crops grown in the United States have been detected in more than 90 percent of oat-based foods. The study, which was published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, revealed that the food products came from popular brands such as Cheerios and Quaker Oats.

The report found high levels of the plant growth regulator in four out of five people tested. A plant growth regulator is a chemical used by farmers and growers to control how a plant flowers, roots, or ages.

The chemical is only approved in the US for ornamental plants, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows imports of crops from countries where the pesticide is allowed.

Although research is limited, some studies have found chloramiquat chloride to reduce fertility and cause problems with fetal development. The research was conducted on animals, but the results have raised concerns about how humans may have a similar effect.

Researchers found the chemical in 80 percent of urine samples collected from 96 adults. The test was conducted from 2017 to 2023, and the pesticide was more common in samples taken in 2023 than in previous years. This suggests that exposure to the chemical is intensifying.

“My initial reaction is extreme concern because of the toxicity and environmental implications associated with this compound,” says Zachary Cartwright, Ph.D., a food scientist at Ecolab in EDM and a member of the Food Safety Institute of the Institute of Food Technologists. are Quality Management Division

“It is important to understand that this is a relatively small sample and differences in exposure may also be due to geographic locations, diet and occupational exposure, as noted in the study.”

The researchers also tested oat- and wheat-based foods, including non-organic cereals, granola and oatmeal. The chemical was found in 92 percent of non-organic oat foods, including Quaker Oats and several varieties of Cheerios from General Mills.

The chemical was found in the highest concentration in Quaker Oat's Old Fashioned Oats. Other products with high samples include Quaker products, including Honey Nut Oatmeal Squares and Maple and Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal, Great Value Oats and Honey Granola, and Cheerios.

The researchers pointed out that the amount of chloramiquat chloride found in the new study was far below the amount that is acceptable according to safety regulators in the US and Europe.

EWG is calling for federal agencies to monitor and test pesticides and has discouraged the EPA from allowing the chemical to be used on crops grown in the United States.

“Keep in mind that this is a pilot investigation and more research and data collection is necessary before making any significant claims,” ​​says Cartwright. “Overall, this study indicates a growing need to better understand emerging chemical exposures within the United States in order to inform the government's Centers for Disease Control, the US Department of Agriculture, and the Food and Drug Administration of testing and can establish monitoring programs.”

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