Earlier this week, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) a Washington, D.C.-based environmentalist organization, published an article entitled “Breakfast With a Dose of Roundup?“, which argues that unsafe levels of weed killer can be found in a number of oat cereals and granola bars. The herbicide, glyphosate, is manufactured by Monsanto under the label Roundup. (This is not the only Roundup news this week, as the company is currently embroiled in a lawsuit over the weed killer.) The EWG report claims to have tested a range of different products, finding unsafe levels of Roundup in most of them.
The story quickly made its way into the press, and a lot of people are understandably concerned. Does this mean that oat based foods are dangerous? For us, there was also a more specific question: how does this relate to Aldi oat products or products by Aldi’s distant cousin, Trader Joe’s?
First off, while some media sites see this as cause for alarm, several sites have also argued that the report is misleading or overblown. Slate, for example, argues that the report arrived at its conclusions by using a threshold much lower than standards used by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, adding that the EWG paper was not submitted for peer review like most scientific papers are. Popular Science notes that the threshold used by the EWG is 100 times lower than California, which has one of the strictest standards in the nation. (We’ve all seen those stickers that says “this product is known in California to cause cancer,” right?) And NBC News points to research that is very mixed on the link between Roundup and things like cancer, even in higher doses.
So while this does appear to be a story worth following, there are also a number of voices arguing that this is not necessarily cause for throwing out the oat products just yet.
What about Aldi and Trader Joe’s? A couple of notes there. One, no Aldi or Trader Joe’s house brands were tested by the EWG. Most of the products tested were national brands or, in one instance, Walmart’s Great Value line. Of course, Aldi and Trader Joe’s may well source oat products from many of the same places that national brands do, but that would only argue that all oat products are affected, not merely those sold by Aldi and / or Trader Joe’s.
Two, neither company has commented on the situation. Aldi has been silent on both on its press page or its recall page, and Trader Joe’s has done the same on its announcements page. While it’s possible either grocer might speak out at a later date, in our experience both stores tend to generally keep quiet on stories like this, unless it is taking some direct action on the matter, which we do not expect them to do at this point.
We’ll update this story if new details warrant it.