Companies Say They Follow Closely Requirements Set By FDA And EPA, While Another Calls Environmental Working Group's Research 'Misleading'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new study claims some popular oat-based breakfast foods marketed to children have dangerous levels of a chemical some health officials link to cancer.

The non-profit Environmental Working Group says 26 samples contained unsafe levels of a popular weed killer, but the companies who make those cereals dispute the findings, CBS2’s Anna Werner reported Thursday.

“There is really no reason consumers should have to worry about whether they’re getting a dose of glyphosate with their breakfast every morning,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s VP of government affairs.

That was Faber in August, talking about a study his company commissioned that found the weed killer glyphosate in dozens of breakfast products.

“We’re very concerned that consumers are eating more glyphosate than they know,” Faber said.

General Mills

Boxes of General Mills’ Honey Nut Cheerios are displayed at Scotty’s Market on Sept. 20, 2017 in San Rafael, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Now a second round of testing shows all 28 samples analyzed contained glyphosate residues — 10 samples from General Mills Cheerios products, and 18 samples from Quaker brand products, ranging from instant oatmeal to snack bars. Of those, 26 of the samples came back with residue levels higher than what EWG believes is safe for children.

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So what does it mean for you when glyphosate residues are found in such a wide range of products? Well, EWG says glyphosate shouldn’t be there and that it may not be safe for your health.

Manufacturers, however, look at it differently.

General Mills says trace amounts of pesticides “are found in the majority of food we all eat,” adding the company follows the “very strict rules” set by the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency, who “determine the safe levels for food products.”

Quaker told CBS2 that “any minimal levels of glyphosate that may remain in finished products are significantly below regulatory limits and well within compliance of the safety standards.”

But the World Health Organization says glyphosate is a probable carcinogen in humans, and the state of California lists it as a chemical “known to the state to cause cancer.”

Dr. Philip Landrigan, a pediatrician and one of the world’s experts on children’s environmental health, advises parents to move away from brands containing glyphosate and buy organic products for their children that do not contain the chemical.

“I find the results of this report concerning,” Dr. Landrigan said. “Children are exquisitely vulnerable to toxic chemicals such as glyphosate. Even a tiny dose that would probably be harmless to an adult carries a much greater risk for a child.”

Monsanto, which sells products containing glyphosate, says the study is misleading, adding the chemical is safe and does not cause cancer, and that adults would have to eat huge quantities of these foods every day to exceed the EPA’s limit for glyphosate exposure.

General Mills says food safety is a top priority, and Quaker stands by its products.