Do breakfast cereals contain endocrine-disrupting pesticides?

EXPPERT Survey 7 – EDCs pesticides exposure ; what are the exposures in daily life?

The worrying results of Générations Futures EXPPERT survey 7 on a breakfast food, muesli, show the ubiquity of cocktails of hormone disrupting chemicals, also known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in the everyday environment. The findings highlight the need for the EU Commission to revise its recently proposed criteria to identify EDCs so that they become effective in protecting health.

Paris, Brussels, 11 October 2016 – The EXPPERT 7 report addresses exposure to EDCs in food eaten at breakfast, a meal considered essential. Food is one of the most important routes of exposure for anyone who is not regularly using pesticides.

The survey represents the seventh part in the EXPPERT series (EXposition aux Pesticides PERTurbateurs endocriniens) on endocrine-disrupting pesticides. It is an initiative of Générations Futures, France, in partnership with the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Pesticides Action Network Europe (PAN E).

EDC pesticides
EDCs are natural or artificial substances that are foreign to the human body. Exposure to these chemicals can interfere with the endocrine system and induce many adverse effects on an individual or on a person’s children or grandchildren. Many pesticides or biocides are either proven or strongly suspected to be EDCs.

Act now
To demonstrate the urgency of preventive action in the field of endocrine disruption, Générations Futures has produced a series of reports based on surveys and research analyses showing the omnipresence of many endocrine disruptors in our environment, which results in significant human exposure (these are the EXPPERT reports).

A targeted report
The 7th Exppert Report looks at one of the most important ways people who are not pesticide users get exposed: through food. Breakfast should meet a quarter of the body’s daily energy needs. This meal should include cereals, mixtures of which can be found in muesli. Générations Futures therefore focused on this popular consumer product – buying and analysing 15 packets of non-organic and five packets of organic cereal or muesli with fruit (or similar additions).


100 percent of samples from the 15 non-organic products contained pesticide residues, including traces of suspected endocrine disrupting substances. None of the samples from the five organic packets contained pesticide residues.

Some figures:

  • In the 15 samples from non-organic packets tested, 141 residues were found, out of which the concentrations of 70 could be quantified. Of these 141 residues, 81 are suspected EDCs, equivalent to 57.44 percent of the total.
  • On average, 9.4 residues were found in the non-organic samples (the sample having the most residues contained 14 and those with the least had six). The non-organic samples had an average of 4.6 residues from suspected endocrine disrupting pesticides.
  • Of the 70 non organic samples that could be quantified, the average concentration of residues was 0.177 mg/kg per sample. This level is 354 times higher than the maximum allowable concentration (MAC) tolerated in drinking water for all pesticides!

“Each new report by our association has demonstrated the urgency to act. These findings again reveal population exposure to too many pesticide residues that are suspected of being endocrine disruptors, which can act at very low doses,”

says Francois Veillerette, spokesperson for Générations Futures.

“In June, the EU Commission announced its proposed criteria for determining EDCs but this definition is far from what is needed to protect the population’s health. The ubiquity of cocktails of EDCs in the environment is confirmed by this report. The findings must be taken into account by the EU Commission, which should revise its criteria to make them truly protective,”

he concludes.

  1. EXPPERT Survey 1: Which endocrine disrupting insecticides are children exposed to everyday? Press release, Brussels, 25 March 2013.
  2. EXPPERT Survey 2: Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals and banned Pesticides in strawberries. Press release, 25 March 2013.
  3. EXPPERT Survey 3: How are children exposed to Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals? Press release, 9 July 2014.
  4. EXPPERT Survey 4: Nineteen endocrine disrupting pesticides found in samples of women’s hair. Press release, 12 March 2015. Our blog.
  5. EXPPERT Survey 5: Pesticides that are banned or suspected to be EDCs are found in green salads. Press release, 22 September 2015. Our blog.
  6. EXPPERT Survey 6: Homes close to pesticide spraying show all year exposure. Press release, 1 March 2016. Our blog.
  7. EXPPERT Survey 7: Exposure to endocrine-disrupting pesticides. What are the exposures in daily life? Press release, 11 October 2016. Our blog.

Have your say! Share your views