Quaker Oats Lawsuit Stirs Concerns Over Pesticide in Products

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Quaker Oats Faces A Lawsuit Alleging Undisclosed Chlormequat Chloride, A Pesticide, In Their Products.

A recent class action lawsuit is causing quite the stir against The Quaker Oats Company, with allegations flying that their oat-based products might just have more in them than just oats and flavoring. The main ingredient in question? Chlormequat chloride, a pesticide, that’s not usually on the breakfast menu.

Plaintiff Daniel Tepper claims he got more than he bargained for with his Quaker purchases. He’s pointing fingers at the company for not being upfront about the possibility of chlormequat lurking in his morning bowl. It’s not just about the oats, though; Tepper’s concern is about a wider array of products, from the Quaker Oats Old Fashioned Oats to the Chewy Dark Chocolate Chunk Snack Bar.

Study reveals pesticide in pantry staples

The consumer class action lawsuit points to a study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that reportedly found chlormequat in several Quaker favorites. It’s got people talking and thinking twice about what’s really in their pantry staples.

Chlormequat chloride is an agricultural chemical used as a plant growth regulator. It helps prevent crops, especially grains, from growing too tall and collapsing, known as lodging.

The EWG reports that 80% of tested Americans have chlormequat in their systems, identifying it as a potentially harmful agricultural chemical. From 2017 to 2023, detection rates of chlormequat increased from 69% to 90%, indicating consistent exposure. 

Despite chlormequat's quick exit from the body, its frequent detection suggests regular contact with the chemical. The EWG's further investigation into 20 oat-based foods, both organic and non-organic, raised additional alarms, although the specific brands tested were not disclosed in the context of the Quaker pesticide lawsuit.

Consumer trust vs. corporate claims

Tepper is not just upset about the alleged deception. He’s seeking to get to the bottom of why Quaker’s “Delicious and nutritious” claim seems at odds with these pesticide predicaments. 

“Reasonable consumers, like plaintiff, certainly expect the food they eat and feed their family to be free from chlormequat, a substance with the risk of adverse health consequences,” the complaint argues.

If there are potentially toxic substances in a food product, the manufacturer should disclose this information so consumers can make informed choices, the Quaker pesticide lawsuit argues.

The EPA’s stance

Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s somewhat laid-back approach to chlormequat, proposing its use on grains despite it not being a typical menu item in the U.S., adds another layer to the lawsuit. With health risks still a question mark, consumers like Tepper are left pondering the purity of their pantry favorites.

In 2023, the EPA proposed allowing the use of chlormequat in oats and other grains. The chemical currently isn’t approved for use on edible plants in the U.S., but the EPA does allow foods treated with it to be imported into the country, according to USA Today.

The EPA said that based on its human risk assessment, chlormequat does not present any “dietary, residential, or aggregate risks of concern.”

A pattern of concern

This isn’t the first legal go-round Quaker has faced. In February, the company was hit with a similar class action lawsuit in New York after lab testing allegedly detected “dangerously high” levels of a potentially toxic pesticide in six products. Last year, the company also faced lawsuits after the recall of certain granola bars and granola cereals contaminated with salmonella.

Tepper is represented by Janine L. Pollack, Lori G. Feldman, David J. George, and Brittany Sackrin of George Feldman McDonald PLLC; and Rebecca A. Peterson of Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP.

The Quaker Oats chlormequat class action lawsuit is Daniel Tepper v. The Quaker Oats Co., Case No. 1:24-cv-02055, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

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