In 2018, the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a report stating they had tested and found the pesticide glyphosate (brand name, "Roundup") residues in dozens of oat-based products. The brands referenced in the EWG article ranged from non-detect up to 1,300 parts per billion (ppb), including 20-30 ppb in a few organic oat products. For reference, the EWG child-protective health benchmark for daily exposure to glyphosate in food which is 160 ppb. In light of this article, we feel it is important to share with you our thoughts and ongoing efforts on this topic.
We first learned of the use of Roundup as a desiccant in 2015, primarily in wheat but also other small grains like oats. Desiccation is another word for drying out, and in an agricultural context, refers to a farmer spraying chemical on a crop to get an earlier and/or more consistent harvest. This disturbed us and we immediately started working with our oat mills to learn more and then modified our supplier approval program to ensure we were sourcing oats only from mills that prohibited the use of glyphosate as a pre-harvest desiccant. This was a good first step, and we felt pretty good about it.
But the EWG article, along with a few recent customer emails (yes we read them all and take them very seriously!), prompted us to take it a step further. Further, the amount of glyphosate in the products mentioned in the EWG report made us uncomfortable as owners of an oat-based product and as parents. Our kids, and many families we know and love, eat our muesli nearly every day! So each year, we have our products voluntarily laboratory tested for glyphosate residues, and in the latest test (December 2019) no glyphosate was detected in our muesli. The lab detection limit was 5 ppb which is lower than the detection limit in the EWG study.
The industrialized food system we have created over the last 50 years in the U.S. often makes it difficult to learn where and how our food is grown and processed. Through this glyphosate issue we have learned that the care we have put into sourcing only the cleanest ingredients has been worthwhile. But we aren't planning to stop there. We are going to double down on ingredient transparency, starting with a routine glyphosate testing program. The results will be posted on our website here regardless of the outcome. Hopefully other companies will follow suit.