Glyphosate, a cancer causing ingredient in a weed killer Roundup has been found in Cheerios and other oats-based cereal and snack products.

The Environmental Working Group ’s (EWG) Children’s Health Initiative found that 21 oat-based cereal and snack products, which are very popular with children, contained traces of the "active ingredient".

A new round of laboratory tests revealed that glyphosate was detected in every sample. An official statement said all but four of the 21 products contained levels of glyphosate, which is the main ingredient in Bayer-Monsanto’s Roundup, higher than what EWG scientists consider protective for children’s health with an adequate margin of safety.

General Mill’s Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch contained the highest levels of the weedkiller at 833 parts per billion (ppb) and Cheerios at 729 ppb. “EWG’s health benchmark for children in 160 ppb. A child would only need to eat a single 60 gram serving of food with a glyphosate level of 160 ppb to reach the maximum dose considered safe by EWG,” said the statement.

Olga Naidenko, vice-president for science investigations at EWG said the latest tests show that a box of Cheerios, or other oat-based foods on store shelves today almost certainly come with a "dose of a cancer-causing weedkiller". Naidenko questioned whether General Mills wants to keep using a chemical that causes cancer, made by a company that three juries have "ound guilty of covering up" its health hazards. “Or will they listen to the growing chorus of concerned consumers calling on General Mills and other companies to remove glyphosate from the cereals kids love to eat.”

General Mills said food safety is a ‘top priorty’ for the company. The company said they are working to minimize the use of pesticides on the ingredients it uses. The company’s statement said, “most crops grown in fields use some form of pesticides and trace amounts are found in the majority of food we all eat. Experts at the FDA and EPA deterine the safe levels for food products, which it adheres to, as well as farmers that grow the crops.”

cheerios recall Cheerios recalled 1.8 million boxes of cereal Monday. Find out if you're affected and how to get a refund. Photo: Getty Images

EWG revealed that every year, more than 250 million pounds of glyphosate are sprayed on crops in the US, mostly on ‘Roundup ready’ corn and soybeans genetically engineered to withstand herbicide. But glyphosate is also applied to non-GMO wheat, barley, oats and beans. Experts say the weedkiller kills the crop, drying it out so it can be harvested soon.