Quaker Oats sued for use of glyphosate in '100% natural' products
Quaker Oats is facing a new lawsuit following private tests that found trace amounts of the herbicide glyphosate on the company's products. Thus, plaintiffs argue, the company employs false marketing tactics in claiming its products are "100% natural."
A lawsuit seeking class-action status was filed in Federal District Courts in New York and California claiming that statements made by Quakers Oats about its products are misleading.
"Defendant aggressively advertises and promotes its oatmeal products as '100% Natural,' and claims its oats are grown using 'eco-friendly' methods that pose 'less risk of pollutants and groundwater pollution,'" the lawsuit says. "These claims are false, deceptive, and misleading."
100% all natural is a meaningless label 100% all natural is a meaningless label 100% all natural is a meaningless l https://t.co/lgKyAKmWre— Natasha Geiling (@ngeiling) May 2, 2016
The suit says Quaker Oats also uses the herbicide glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weed killer that was deemed a "probable" human carcinogen by the World Health Organization last year, to dry its oats prior to harvest.
“There is nothing unlawful about Quaker Oats’ growing and processing methods,” the suit reads. “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 responded to the suit saying that glyphosate, a common biocide used by farmers in the US and around the world, is not applied to oats during the milling process, and that its oats undergo a rigorous cleansing process.
“Any levels of glyphosate that may remain are trace amounts and significantly below any limits which have been set by the [US Environmental Protection Agency] as safe for human consumption,” the company said in a statement, as reported by the New York Times.
The EPA has set the safe level of average individual daily intake of glyphosate at 1.75 milligrams per kilogram, while the European Union's level is 0.3 milligrams per kilogram, the NY Times reported.
The plaintiffs' attorneys, of the Richman Law Group, paid for tests at an independent lab in California, which involved liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. The test was done only on Quaker Oats' Quick 1-Minute product. The lawsuit, though, includes other products in its claims, including Quaker Oats Old-Fashioned and Quaker Steel Cut Oats.
The tests found glyphosate on Quaker Oats products at a level of 1.18 parts per million, which is about 4 percent of the 30 parts per million allowed on cereal grains by the EPA.
“The issue is that Quaker advertises these products as 100 percent natural, and glyphosate in any amount is not natural,” said Kim Richman, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, according to the NY Times.
The use of glyphosate in herbicides has increased by more than 250 times in the United States in the last 40 years, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. Long-term exposure to glyphosate has been linked to kidney and liver damage, as well as cellular and genetic diseases. Monsanto and defenders of glyphosate use called the World Health Organization's carcinogen classification too "dramatic" and have pointed to assurances that the chemical is, indeed, safe.
Last month, the European Parliament approved the seven-year re-authorization of glyphosate, though it recommended the chemical should be used only by professionals and not in public places.
In September, Monsanto was sued by two agricultural workers in the US who claimed Roundup had caused their cancers.
In February, the US Food and Drug Administration said it would begin to test some products – including milk, corn, eggs, and soybeans, among possible others in the future – for glyphosate.
In 2013, the EPA approved Monsanto's plea for use of increased levels of glyphosate, which was first created in 1970 by Monsanto. In 1974, the company began selling the chemical in Roundup, which has become a top bioicide for both farming, especially regarding genetically-engineered crops, and home and garden uses.