Exclusive: Company pledges products will be free from ingredients tainted with controversial herbicide after survey found traces in its European ice-creams
Ben & Jerry’s has moved to cut all glyphosate-tainted ingredients from its production chain and introduce an “organic dairy” line next year, after a new survey found widespread traces of the controversial substance in its European ice-creams.
The dramatic initiative follows a new survey by Health Research Institute (HRI) laboratories which found traces of the weedkiller in 13 out of 14 B&J tubs sampled in the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands.
It will add to a growing unease around the herbicide, which was first marketed in the US by Monsanto in 1974, as RoundUp, but is now the world’s most popular weedkiller, made by companies worldwide. Recently Prosecco DOC announced that wines marketed under the banner would not be able to use glyphosate and the US state of California added it to its list of chemicals that cause cancer.
Similar levels of glyphosate in B&J ice-cream have also been recorded in the US, although scientists told the Guardian these were “very low and not likely to pose a public health problem”.
Laura Peterson, a spokeswoman for B&J, said that the firm was “disappointed, but not totally surprised” to hear the results of the latest analysis.
“Glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides in agriculture and is everywhere – from mainstream food, to natural and organic food, and even rainwater – and that’s the issue,” she told the Guardian.
The herbicide is commonly used on crops such as wheat, barley, oats and peanuts, making it likely that it came from B&J’s cookie dough, peanut butter or other added ingredients.
“But simply saying trace levels are in everything is not a strategy,” Peterson added. “By no later than 2020, we will stop sourcing [ingredients] made with crops chemically dried using glyphosate. In addition, we intend to advocate for policies that would end use of glyphosate as a chemical drying agent.”