Lawsuit Questions Quaker Oats’ 100% Natural Claim

(Anne Foster Coleman/Demand Media)
(Anne Foster Coleman/Demand Media)

A lawsuit seeking to be certified as a class action has been filed on behalf of consumers in New York and California against the owner of Quaker Oats after testing found traces of the pesticide glyphosate in some oatmeal.

While the level of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular weed killer Roundup, detected in the oatmeal falls well below the limit set by federal regulators for human consumption, the lawsuit accuses Quaker of false advertising because it markets the oatmeal as “100% natural.”

Quaker, which is owned by PepsiCo, says on its website that the oats used in its products are grown in an environmentally responsible way. “Since oats require less herbicide spray than many other grains, there is less risk of pollutants and groundwater contamination,” it says.

The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Courts in New York and California, contends that such statements are false and misleading. “There is nothing unlawful about Quaker Oats’ growing and processing methods,” the suit says. “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.”

In a statement, the Quaker Oats Company said that it did not add glyphosate during any part of the milling process but that it might be applied by farmers to certain grains before harvest.

The company said it puts the oats it receives through a cleansing process. “Any levels of glyphosate that may remain are trace amounts and significantly below any limits which have been set by the E.P.A. as safe for human consumption,” the company said.

A test paid for by lawyers for the plaintiffs, the Richman Law Group, found glyphosate at a level of 1.18 parts per million in a sample of Quaker Oats Quick 1-Minute. This is roughly 4 percent of the 30 parts per million that the Environmental Protection Agency allows in cereal grains.

An independent lab in California did the testing, using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, a technique widely used by medical and chemical labs and pharmaceutical research.

Although testing was done only on Quick 1-Minute, the lawsuit also makes claims against Quaker Oats Old-Fashioned and Quaker Steel Cut Oats.

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SOURCE: The New York Times
Stephanie Strom