What could be more appealing on a cold winter morning than a bowl of hot oatmeal? But hidden
in that steaming bowl is an unpleasant surprise. It’s a little-known agricultural chemical called
Animal studies show that chlormequat harms the unborn and causes reproductive damage in the
The nonprofit Environmental Working Group tested 13 oat-based cereals and found some
troubling results.
The cereal with the highest level of chlormequat was Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats. Second, third
and fourth were Walmart Great Value Oats & Honey Granola, Quaker Instant Oatmeal Maple &
Brown Sugar, and Quaker Oatmeal Squares Honey Nut.
The next brands, with less chlormequat, are listed in descending order:
Cheerios, Cheerios Oat Crunch Oats n’ Honey
Good & Gather French Vanilla Almond Granola
Quaker Oatmeal Squares Brown Sugar
Quaker Chewy Dark Chocolate Chunk
Quaker Simply Granola Oats Honey & Almonds
Frosted Cheerios
Honey Nut Cheerios
The researchers did not detect chlormequat in Kellogg’s Special K Fruit & Yogurt.
The bottom line: buy organic oat cereals. They are available in many stores and online.
In their report, the Environmental Working Group notes:
“Chlormequat is approved for agricultural commercial use on ornamental plants only — not on
oats or any other food products grown in the U.S. But imported oats can have chlormequat
residue in them, which is how they end up in the food we eat.
“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently permitted traces of chlormequat in U.S.
food, including oats, wheat and barley.
“This change took place during the Trump administration, first in 2018, when it said food could
be sold in the U.S., even if it had traces of chlormequat. Then, in 2020, the Trump EPA increased
permitted levels of the chemical for oats.”