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Weedkillers in Cereals: What to Know

In a new round of testing, the nonprofit watchdog Environmental Working Group found the weedkiller glyphosate in all 21 cereal and snack products it sampled.

“All but four contained levels higher than what EWG considers protective for children’s health,” says Alexis Temkin, PhD, an EWG toxicologist and co-author of the new report, issued Wednesday.

Glyphosate is the main ingredient in Bayer-Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup.

Monsanto took exception to the report and said its products contain safe levels of chemicals, well below federal limits. The FDA says its standard safe level of glyphosate ranges from 0.1 parts per million to 310 ppm.

The products meet the regulatory standards set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Temkin says, but the EWG believes that the feds’ “tolerance limits are too high to adequately protect children’s health.”

The EWG first tested oat-based products in August 2018 and then again in October. It did the latest round to see if there has been any shift in the market or if oat-based foods still contain levels that were present before.

In general, the watchdog group found no differences.

In a statement, General Mills spokesperson Mike Siemienas says: “General Mills’ top priority is food safety and has been for over 150 years. Most crops grown in fields use some form of pesticides and trace amounts are found in the majority of food we all eat.”

baby_child_cheerios_cereal

 

What the New Tests Found

In the previous testing, including 94 samples of oat-based foods, glyphosate was detected in all but two samples, with 74 samples at levels above the EWG’s benchmark of 160 parts per billion (ppb). In the latest testing, ”we did 21 samples; four we had previously tested and 17 were new,” Temkin says.

Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch, made by General Mills, had the highest levels, with 833 ppb, and regular Cheerios had 729 ppb.

Temkin says the EWG benchmark for children’s health of 160 ppb is calculated on how much of a substance would result in one additional case of cancer in every million people over a lifetime.

Nature Valley Fruit & Nut Chewy Trail Mix Granola Bar, Dark Chocolate & Nut, had the lowest results, with 76 ppb. Among other products sampled, Nature Valley Maple Brown Sugar granola bars had 566 ppb, Nature Valley Almond Butter Granola Cups had 529, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios had 400 ppb.

Complete results are here.

The EWG bought the products via online retail sites, shipping about 300 grams of each to an independent lab to analyze glyphosate levels.

Cancer-Causing or Not?

Are the levels worrisome or not? Experts disagree. The International Agency for Research on Cancer said in 2015 that glyphosate is ”probably carcinogenic to humans.”

The EPA says the chemical is not likely to cause cancer in people. In April, the EPA, while reviewing glyphosate, said it ”continues to find that there are no risks to public health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label and that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.”

Most crops grown in fields use some form of pesticides and trace amounts are found in the majority of food we all eat.
~ General Mills spokesperson Mike Siemienas

Glyphosate is a weedkiller and also helps ready crops for harvest. It promotes even drying so more of the crops can be harvested at the same time.

In recent years, some communities have banned the use of glyphosate. To date, three juries have awarded damages in cases involving the weedkiller and cancer. In May, a California jury ordered Monsanto to pay a couple more than $2 billion in damages.

Parents who are concerned can turn to organic products, Temkin says. “We do know that organic oats are going to have much lower levels, because the use of glyphosate is prohibited,” she says. Still, it’s no guarantee, since organic oats might be grown near fields where the weedkiller is used.

Monsanto Replies

In a statement, Monsanto says: “The glyphosate levels in this report are far below the strict limits established by the Environmental Protection Agency to protect human health. Even at the highest level reported by the EWG (833 ppb), an adult would have to eat 158 pounds of the oat-based food every day for the rest of their life to reach the strict limits set by the EPA.”

General Mills’ Siemienas agrees.

“Experts at the FDA and EPA determine the safe levels for food products,” he says. “These are very strict rules that we follow as do farmers who grow crops. We continue to work closely with farmers, our suppliers and conservation organizations to minimize the use of pesticides on the ingredients we use in our foods.”

The allegations, he says, are the same as those made in previous EWG reports.

Sources
Article: Weedkillers in Cereals: What to Know
Environmental Working Group: “In New Round of Tests, Monsanto’s Weedkiller Still Contaminates Foods Marketed to Children,” June 12, 2019.
News release, EPA: “EPA Takes Next Step in Review Process for Herbicide Glyphosate, Reaffirms No Risk to Public Health,” April 30, 2019.
Alexis Temkin, PhD, toxicologist, Environmental Working Group.
The New York Times: “$2 Billion Verdict Against Monsanto Is Third to Find Roundup Caused Cancer.”
Statement, Monsanto, June 13, 2019.
Mike Siemienas, spokesperson, General Mills. 
FDA.gov: “Questions and Answers on Glyphosate.”
Libby Mills, RDN, spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Carl Winter, PhD, extension food toxicologist; vice chair, food science and technology, University of California, Davis.
United States Department of Agriculture: “Changes in Retail Organic Price Premiums from 2004 to 2010.”
United States Department of Agriculture: “Organic Production and Handling Standards.”
Trewavas, A. Crop Protection, September 2004.
Environmental Protection Agency: “Pesticides and Food.”
United States Department of Agriculture: “Organic Labeling Standards,” “Organic Agriculture,” “Organic Market Overview,” “Labeling Organic Product.”
Environmental Working Group: “EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce,” “FDA Bans Three Toxic Chemicals.”
Winter, C. Journal of Toxicology, May 2011.
North Carolina State University: “Strawberry Disease and Their Control.”
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station: “Removal of Trace Residues from Produce.”
Krol, W. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, October 2000.
National Potato Commission: “US Per Capita Utilization of Potatoes.”
Srednicka-Tober, D. British Journal of Nutrition, March 2016.
American Cancer Society: “Teflon and PFOA.”
Crop Protection: “A critical assessment of organic farming-and-food assertions with particular respect to the UK and the potential benefits of no-till agriculture.”
Journal of Agromedicine: “Pesticide/Environmental Exposures and Parkinson’s Disease in East Texas.”
PLOS: “Choosing Organic Pesticides over Synthetic Pesticides May Not Effectively Mitigate Environmental Risk in Soybeans”
Colorado State University: “Pesticides: Natural Isn’t Always Best.”
British Journal of Nutrition: “Composition differences between organic and conventional meet; A systematic literature review and meta-analysis.”
PBS: “USA to propose standard for organic seafood raised in U.S.”
Food Standards Agency: “Pesticides.”

By Kathleen Doheny        June 14, 2019 
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on June 14, 2019
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Healthy Breakfast: Quick, Flexible Options

These healthy out-of-the-box options will fuel you up without slowing you down.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

It might be the last thing on your morning to-do list, or worse, it might not be on your list at all. But a healthy breakfast refuels your body, jump-starts your day and may even benefit your overall health. So don’t skip this meal — it may be more important than you think.

These quick and flexible options give you plenty of ways to put breakfast back on your daily menu.

The benefits of a healthy breakfast

Breakfast gives you a chance to start each day with a healthy and nutritious meal.

Adults who report regularly eating a healthy breakfast are more likely to:

  • Eat more vitamins and minerals
  • Control their weight
  • Eat less fat and cholesterol

Children who regularly eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to:

  • Meet daily nutrient requirements
  • Be at a healthy body weight
  • Have better concentration and be more alert
  • Miss fewer days of school

The basics of a healthy breakfast

What exactly counts as a healthy breakfast? Here’s what forms the core of a healthy breakfast:

  • Whole grains. Examples include whole-grain rolls, bagels, hot or cold whole-grain cereals, low-fat bran muffins, crackers, and Melba toast.
  • Lean protein. Examples include peanut butter, lean meat, poultry or fish, and hard-boiled eggs.
  • Low-fat dairy. Examples include milk, plain or lower sugar yogurts, and low-fat cheeses, such as cottage and natural cheeses.
  • Fruits and vegetables. Examples include fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, 100 percent juice drinks without added sugar, and fruit and vegetable smoothies. Choose low-sodium versions of beverages, though.

Together, these food groups provide complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein and a small amount of fat — a combination that packs health benefits and helps you feel full for hours.

Find options from these core groups that suit your tastes and preferences. And try to choose one or two options from each category to round out a healthy breakfast.

Breakfast

 

What to look for in dry cereals

Cereal may be your go-to item for breakfast, whether you grab a handful to eat dry while on the run, or you have time to sit down for a bowl with milk and fruit. But not all cereals are created equal. Read the Nutrition Facts label and ingredient list before you buy cereal. And remember that not all cereals have the same serving size. A serving of one cereal might be 1/2 cup, while another may be 1 cup.

Key items to consider when choosing cereal are:

  • Fiber. Choose cereals with at least 3 grams of fiber in each serving, but if possible, aim for 5 grams a serving or more.
  • Sugar. After you find fiber-rich cereals that you like, look for the one with the lowest amount of sugar. Focus on cereals marketed to adults. They’re usually lower in sugar than cereals aimed at children. To find out how much sugar a cereal contains, check the Nutrition Facts label. It’s also important to check the ingredient list. Avoid cereals that list sugar at or near the top of the ingredient list, or that list multiple types of added sugar, such as high-fructose corn syrup, honey, brown sugar and dextrose.
  • Calories. If you’re counting calories, choose cereals lower in calories, ideally less than 160 calories a serving.

Remember to top off your bowl of cereal with some sliced fruit and low-fat or skim milk. Or if you’re on the go, take along a piece of fruit, a container of milk or some yogurt.

A word about cereal bars

Cereal bars may be a good breakfast option. Just be sure to look for those that meet the same guidelines as dry cereal. Also, don’t forget some fruit and low-fat milk or yogurt to round things out. Even fruit or yogurt cereal bars won’t satisfy all your nutrition requirements for breakfast.

Quick and flexible breakfast options

You have plenty of ways to get in a healthy breakfast each day, and it doesn’t always have to be a traditional breakfast menu.

Here are some examples of healthy breakfast options:

  • Cooked oatmeal topped with almonds or dried cranberries
  • A whole-wheat pita stuffed with hard-boiled eggs
  • Leftover vegetable pizza
  • A tortilla filled with vegetables, salsa and low-fat shredded cheese
  • A smoothie of fruits, plain yogurt and a spoonful of wheat germ
  • Whole-wheat crackers with low-fat cheese or peanut butter
  • A whole-wheat sandwich with lean meat and low-fat cheese, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and sweet peppers
  • Multigrain pancakes with fruit and yogurt
  • A whole-grain waffle with peanut butter
  • Egg omelet with vegetables (use more egg whites than yolk)

Fitting in a healthy breakfast

Try these tips for fitting in breakfast on a tight schedule:

  • Cook ahead. Make breakfast the night before. Just reheat as necessary in the morning.
  • Set the stage. Figure out what you’ll eat for breakfast the night before. Then, set out dry ingredients and any bowls, equipment or pans. They’ll be ready for use in the morning.
  • Pack it up. Make a to-go breakfast the night before. In the morning, you can grab it and go.

If you skip breakfast because you want to save calories, reconsider that plan. Chances are you’ll be ravenous by lunchtime. That may lead you to overeat or choose fast but unhealthy options — perhaps doughnuts or cookies a co-worker brings to the office.

Your morning meal doesn’t have to mean loading up on sugar and fats, and it doesn’t have to be time-consuming to be healthy. Keep the breakfast basics in mind and set yourself up for healthier eating all day long.