Homemade traditional spread hummus with pine nuts, olive oil, basil served on ceramic plate with pita bread over linen cloth background Flat lay, space Mediterranean snack.
Homemade hummus isn't any safer, environmental group warns (Photo/ Natasha Breen/REDA&CO-Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Concerns raised about herbicide chemical found in supermarket hummus brands

That hummus may not be as healthful as you want to believe, according to an environmental advocacy group’s latest research.

Laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group found glyphosate, the chemical used in the herbicide Roundup, in 80% of conventional chickpeas and hummus tested.

The Environmental Working Group is an advocacy organization, funded in part by the organic food industry, that commissions research on the health of consumer products. It has long called attention to glyphosate, commonly used to kill weeds, and says the compound causes cancer.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the European Union do not consider glyphosate a likely carcinogen. But the company that makes Roundup agreed last month to pay more than $10 billion to settle thousands of claims that the product contributed to cancers, and some European nations are phasing out its use under pressure from environmental advocates.

Among the brands that exceeded the the Environmental Working Group’s benchmarks for safe levels of the chemical were Whole Foods Market Original Hummus, Sabra Classic Hummus, Sabra Roasted Pine Nut Hummus, Cava Traditional Hummus and Harris Teeter Fresh Foods Market Traditional Artisan Hummus. All brands fell well within the Environmental Protection Agency’s glyphosate limits.

Organic food producers are not allowed to apply glyphosate to their crops, but the trials did detect the chemical in several organic chickpea products, although the levels were lower than in the conventionally grown products.

For people seeking to avoid glyphosate in their food, producing one’s own hummus — an easy, no-cooking task — unfortunately offers no solution. The dry chickpeas that the Environmental Working Group tested had the highest levels of the chemical of all the products it reviewed.

Shira Hanau
Shira Hanau

Shira Hanau is a reporter at JTA. She was previously a staff writer at the New York Jewish Week and has written for the Forward, Columbia Journalism Review and the Harvard Divinity Bulletin.


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