Glyphosate, one of the most widely used herbicides, was found in more than 80 percent of non-organic hummus brands and several organic versions including the popular brand Sabra, according to a report from the Environmental Working Group, an environmental health nonprofit organization, released Tuesday.
The chemical, developed in the 1970s by scientists at agriculture company Monsanto, is found in a number of weedkillers including Roundup, which Bayer acquired in 2018.
The EWG conducted laboratory tests of samples from 27 non-organic hummus brands, 12 organic hummus labels and six organic chickpea brands. The results found the majority of non-organic hummus brand samples contained more than the EWG’s suggested limit for glyphosate of 160 parts per billion (ppb) for daily adult consumption based on a four tablespoon serving of hummus (60 grams).
Whole Foods Market’s Original Hummus had the highest level of glyphosate with more than 2,000 ppb or nearly 15 times the EWG recommended limit, according to the report. Ten hummus samples exceeded the EWG’s suggested benchmark for glyphosate.
A spokesperson for Whole Foods told FOX Business all of its products tested by the Environmental Working Group "are fully compliant with EPA tolerances of glyphosate."
The brands include Sabra Classic Hummus; Sabra Roasted Pine Nut Hummus; two samples of Whole Foods Market Original Hummus; Whole Foods Market organic-label Original Hummus; Cava Traditional Hummus; and two samples of Harris Teeter Fresh Foods Market Traditional Artisan Hummus.
“We advise for consumers to call the producers of their favorite hummus brands, and demand that this healthy product should contain no glyphosate," Olga Naidenko, vice president for science investigations at EWG, told FOX Business.
The Environmental Protection Agency told FOX Business traces of glyphosate were not an immediate health concern. The agency's website says there are no risks of "concern to human health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label," and a certain amount is allowed in food and beverages.
EWG found that all but two of the 12 samples of organic hummus and six samples or organic chickpeas contained detectable concentrations of glyphosate. The beans and bean-based hummus products for the study were purchased online or at supermarket chains like Aldi, Costco, Trader Joe's, Walmart and Whole Foods, among others in Washington, D.C., New York City and San Francisco.
"Regulatory authorities have strict rules when it comes to pesticide residues. In the U.S., the EPA sets daily exposure limits at least 100 times below levels shown to have no negative effect in safety studies," a Bayer spokesperson told FOX Business.
"Even at the highest level reported in the hummus samples (2,379 ppb), an adult would have to eat 64 pounds of hummus every day for the rest of their life to reach the strict limits set by the EPA."
Sabra did not immediately return FOX Business' request for comment.
"For today, we don’t suggest that people should go to their refrigerators and toss out all of the hummus found there," Naidenko said. The health harms of glyphosate on food are from long-term exposure, so for future purchases, it’s best to buy hummus that has no weed-killer in it.”
Bayer, the maker of Roundup, in June paid $10.5 billion to settle tens of thousands of lawsuits that claim the herbicide brand causes cancer. The pharmaceutical company took over thousands of lawsuits when it acquired Roundup from Monsanto in 2018.
This story has been updated to include comment from a Whole Foods spokesperson