A new study suggests Umpqua Oats, a locally-founded company known for its oatmeal cups, had an unsafe amount of “the Roundup chemical” in its maple pecan flavored oatmeal.
The study, which was performed by the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit environmental organization, said it found levels of glyphosate that would be unsafe for children. The study focused on 29 popular oat-based products like cereal, granola and oatmeal.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, the most commonly used herbicide in the U.S. It is also shrouded in controversy. The World Health Organization said glyphosate is probably a human carcinogenic, but the Environmental Protection Agency said in December the ingredient was not harmful to humans “when the product is used according to the herbicide label.”
Douglas Public Health Network Director Bob Dannenhoffer said there have been a number of studies done on the chemical and nothing definitive has been found one way or the other, but he said, the best data indicated the chemical should be watched.
“It’s easy to prove something is harmful,” Dannenhoffer said. “A more difficult study is to show something that is used is safe. It is one of many, many things that are out there that could be risky, but it’s hard to know about absolute safety in many of these areas. There are always risks in life, so you have to consider the risks and benefits. For everything, we need to better understand the risks and the benefits and absolutely minimize the risks. We are never going to find anything that is risk-free, but we have to have the very best data out there to make these risk-benefit analyses.”
Umpqua Oats was founded in Roseburg as a healthy snack alternative for kids by soccer moms Sheri Price and Mandy Holborow, but moved to Nevada in July of 2016. The two released a statement to their customers that said none of their products have been recalled and they are well within federal safety standards.
“At Umpqua Oats we take issues of food safety and quality very seriously. We are committed to offering you the highest quality hot cereal products in the industry. As the industry discussion regarding herbicides continues, we will support our customers’ commitment to the reduction of chemical use in agriculture,” Price and Holborow said in the statement.
Price and Holborow declined to comment further.
The EPA allows up to 30 parts per million, but the study measured in parts per billion. Six of the foods were found to contain safe amounts of glyphosate and the remaining five showed no trace of the ingredient.
The statement from Umpqua Oats is below:
To All Umpqua Oats Customers:
As you may be aware, there has recently been considerable discussion regarding trace levels of the herbicide glyphosate in a wide range of food products. As the discussion involves a number of parties with varying perceptions and objectives, it is difficult to ascertain truth from fiction.
The simple facts are as follows:
- Without question, Umpqua Oats products are safe to eat and well within compliance of the safety standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
- No recalls have been issued for any Umpqua Oats product by any government agency.
- The oats used in our products are tested at harvest and tested again at the mill for glyphosate content, and all of our products are in compliance with safety and regulatory requirements.
At Umpqua Oats we take issues of food safety and quality very seriously. We are committed to offering you the highest quality hot cereal products in the industry. As the industry discussion regarding herbicides continues, we will support our customers’ commitment to the reduction of chemical use in agriculture.
Sheri Price & Mandy Holborow Founders, Umpqua Foods, LLC