Highlights:

  • EPA & OEHHA have conflicting views on Glyphosate.
  • Glyphosate remains on the Proposition 65 list of chemicals that are known to cause cancer.
  • Glyphosate is most commonly used in grains, soybeans, peanuts, peas, potatoes, and flax.


A year and a half ago, we answered 5 key questions often raised about glyphosate and its impact on the food industry. In the time since, the active ingredient in a well-known weed killer has not escaped the spotlight; its safety is an ongoing debate across the globe. In recent months, various agencies and regulatory bodies have further solidified their stance on the effects of glyphosate. We revisit some of those key questions below:

What has changed in the regulatory environment?

On August 8, EPA released the following statement:

“EPA will no longer approve product labels claiming glyphosate is known to cause cancer – a false claim that does not meet the labeling requirements of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The State of California’s much-criticized Proposition 65 has led to misleading labeling requirements for products, like glyphosate, because it misinforms the public about the risks they are facing. This action will ensure consumers have the correct information based on EPA’s comprehensive evaluation of glyphosate.”

On August 12, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment issued a response, stating,

“OEHHA objects to US EPA’s characterization of any warning concerning glyphosate’s carcinogenicity as “a false claim”. US EPA’s assertion is based on its view that glyphosate is not likely to cause cancer in humans. That position conflicts with the determination made by IARC and its scientific panel, which included experts from the US National Cancer Institute, US EPA and the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health, who carefully evaluated the extensive scientific evidence on glyphosate’s carcinogenicity. It is disrespectful of the scientific process for US EPA to categorically dismiss any warnings based on IARC’s determinations as false.”

Outside of the US, Germany last month announced a total phase-out of the chemical by 2023, becoming the 18th country (8th in Europe) to do so.

What does this mean for the food industry?

As the debate over glyphosate’s safety further muddies the water, it remains important for food manufacturers to understand any potential impact of glyphosate on their business. For example, the use of synthetic herbicides such as glyphosate is prohibited in organic farming, but the robust chemical can permeate the environment beyond its intended application site.

Understanding where and how the chemical could unintentionally penetrate a production area is a critical consideration.

For manufacturers selling in California, despite the disagreement between federal EPA and OEHHA, glyphosate remains on the Proposition 65 list of chemicals that are known to cause cancer. In July 2018, a safe harbor limit of 1100 micrograms per day was set, meaning products exposing consumers to more than that amount must carry a warning at point of sale.  

Aside from organic certification and Proposition 65 requirements, all crop manufacturers must adhere to EPA’s glyphosate tolerances, which are established for a variety of commodities, ranging from 0.1 to 310 ppm.

Glyphosate is most commonly used in grains (wheat, rye, oats, corn, barley, triticale), soybeans, peanuts, peas, potatoes, and flax. Are any of these commodities part of your supply network?

How can I monitor my supply chain?

Employ rigorous, validated analytical methods for the determination of glyphosate and its metabolite AMPA. During testing, the glyphosate and AMPA are extracted from the food sample with an acetic acid/EDTA aqueous solution, and a portion of the extracted solution is passed through C18 powder and filter centrifuged. The filtered extract is then analyzed by LC-MS/MS. The level of detection for glyphosate is 0.005 ppm and 0.010 ppm for AMPA.

Contact industry experts in chemical residues to help you manage glyphosate. Merieux NutriSciences’ Board-certified toxicologists can provide glyphosate risk assessments to help determine the potential levels of exposure to consumers. In addition, our experts can assist in setting up the appropriate monitoring program involving regular testing.

Contact us today!

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