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Concerns Arise Over Presence of Chlormequat in Popular Oat-Based Products

Chlormequat in food products

What is Chlormequat contamination?

Chlormequat, a chemical linked to reproductive and fertility issues in animal studies, has been discovered in oat-based products such as Cheerios and Quaker Oats, according to a study shared in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology. Despite being banned for use on edible plants in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began allowing the importation of plants treated with chlormequat in 2018, leading to its presence in certain food items.

What does the company say?

General Mills, the manufacturer of Cheerios, has stated that all their products adhere to regulatory requirements and prioritize food safety. However, Quaker Foods has not responded to requests for comment regarding the issue. Animal studies published by the National Library of Medicine have linked chlormequat to reduced fertility, delayed puberty, and adverse effects on embryonic and postnatal health. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reported finding the chemical in 92% of oat-based foods purchased in May 2023, including various Cheerios and Quaker Oats products.

What are the risks?

Children are particularly at risk as both Cheerios and Quaker Oats are popular choices among them. The study detected the chemical in 80% of the urine samples tested, suggesting regular exposure due to its presence in commonly consumed food items. This revelation adds to previous concerns about chemicals in oat-based products, including glyphosate, a controversial weed-killing pesticide. General Mills and Quaker Oats have previously defended their products’ safety, stating compliance with EPA regulations and emphasizing efforts to minimize pesticide use in collaboration with farmers and suppliers.

The presence of chlormequat in widely consumed oat-based products underscores the importance of rigorous regulatory oversight and transparent communication from food manufacturers. Consumers may need to reconsider their choices and demand greater transparency regarding the safety and quality of the products they consume, especially those marketed towards children.

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