Quaker Oats Pesticide Lawsuit: Know What’s in Your Breakfast

by | Jun 27, 2024 | Product Liability, Personal Injury | 0 comments

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A recent lawsuit against Quaker Oats, an inevitable staple in American breakfast tables has stirred a debate on the safety of food products. The lawsuit alleges that the beloved oatmeal, marketed for its wholesomeness and natural qualities, has the traces of a pesticide called chlormequat. This has raised alarms and questions among the consumers about what exactly is in their breakfast bowls.

Through our detailed analysis, we unfold the layers of the Quaker Oats pesticide lawsuit, the scientific findings on chlormequat, and the broader implications of this case on the food industry and consumer trust.

Before delving into the details of the Quaker Oats lawsuit, let’s just have a peek into the history of Quaker Oats Company, the famous oatmeal manufacturer.

Tale of Quaker Oats

From a simple oat milling company founded in 1877 to the famous brand of Quaker Foods and Beverages in 2024, the journey of Quaker Oats have seen many ups and downs. Even after officially founded as Quaker Oats Company in 1901 in New Jersey, it had found many merges and acquisitions until PepsiCo Inc. purchased it for $13.4 billion in 2001 and changed its name to Quaker Foods and Beverages.

The Quaker logo was made in 1877 with a full figure of a man dressed in classic Quaker style to represent the qualities like honesty, purity and integrity to appeal to the customers. Though the logo was later reduced into the bust size image of the Quaker man, the popularity and sales of the brand had grown in multifold.

At present, Quaker Oats markets more than 170 products ranging from hot cereals, cold cereals to breakfast cookies and biscuits.

However, the lawsuits on the quality and safety of the products in the recent past had put the meaning of their logo-honesty, purity and integrity into a tangle of big question mark.

Let’s now move onto the core of the blog- the Quaker Oats pesticide lawsuits. To know a detailed discussion of legal battle against Quaker Oats, keep reading our blog.

Quaker Oats Pesticide Lawsuit

New Rochelle resident, Lilian Fitzgerald brought a class action lawsuit against Quaker Oats on February 2, 2024 in the United States District Court of Southern District of New York. This Quaker Oats lawsuit alleged that the Quaker Oats products had high levels of pesticide named chlormequat.

Ms. Fitzgerald had been using Maple and Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal and Dinosaur Eggs Instant Oatmeal from the beginning of 2023. She made the purchase believing that the Quaker Oats products were safe and devoid of any dangerous chemicals.

In a test conducted by a Californian lab Anresco, it was identified that the Maple and Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal contained 90 ppb (parts per billion) of chlormequat. According to the research by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), 30 ppb would be safe health benchmark for a human to consume.

The Quaker Oats chlormequat lawsuit alleged that the defendant failed to disclose the fact that their products had chlormequat and ingesting that could cause various adverse side effects.

This Quaker Oats Pesticide lawsuit purported that due to the “… Defendant’s material misrepresentations and omissions, Ms. Fitzgerald suffered, and continues to suffer, economic injuries.”

Basic Allegations in the Quaker Oats Lawsuit

The Quaker Oats class action was brought on behalf of all the consumers who had purchased Quaker Oats products within the Unites States during the class period and until the class certification date.

The Quaker Oats pesticide lawsuit point out that the following Quaker products were tested positive for higher concentrations of chlormequat:

  • Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
  • Quaker Instant Oatmeal Maple & Brown Sugar
  • Quaker Oatmeal Squares Honey Nut
  • Quaker Oatmeal Squares Brown Sugar
  • Quaker Chewy Dark Chocolate Chunk
  • Quaker Simply Granola Oats Honey & Almonds

The allegations in the class actions were made based on the following counts:

  • Violations of the New York General Business Law § 349, “which makes deceptive acts and practices unlawful.”
  • Violations of the New York General Business Law § 350, which provides, “False advertising in the conduct of any business, trade or commerce or in the furnishing of any service in this state is hereby declared unlawful.”
  • Breach of Implied Warranty of Merchantability as the products contain high levels of chlormequat.
  • Unjust enrichment by compromising the health of consumers.

Before delving into the course and prospects of the lawsuit, let’s know some basic details on the subject of controversy- Chlormequat.

What is Chlormequat?

Chlormequat was a highly toxic pesticide permitted to use only on ornamental plants in the U.S since 1962. It hinders the plant growth and prevents the plants from bending over. Since 2017, chemical companies have been requesting the EPA to allow chlormequat to be used in oats crops as it would make harvesting easier. They got the approval in 2018 for a 15 ppm tolerance in oats and other products.

Chemical companies like Taminco, have filed applications again to the EPA to increase the chlormequat tolerance in oats to 40 ppm from the previously approved 15 ppm and got approval in May 2020. Further applications moved by the companies for the approval of chlormequat to be used in other crops are still under consideration by the EPA. If approved, it would dangerously increase the concentration of this pesticide in food products.

Expert Research Revelations on Chlormequat

Known for disrupting the growth of plants, chlormequat can also hinder the fetal growth and damage the reproductive system, as identified in the animal studies. This discovery creates concerns on how much the congestion of chlormequat could cause harm to the children.

The EWG undertook the lab tests (Anresco) on around 14 popular oat cereals, granola and other food products for the presence of chlormequat. Out of the 13 products where presence of chlormequat was discovered, eleven products had higher concentrations of the pesticide which could definitely harm the children’s health.

While Quaker’s Old Fashioned Oats stood first with highest concentration of 291 ppb, Honey Nut Oatmeal Squares and Maple and Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal followed with more than 150 ppb in concentration. Other Quaker products followed were Oatmeal Squares Brown Sugar, Chewy Dark Chocolate Chunk, and Simply Granola Oats Honey & Almonds with little lesser than 100 ppb.


A PubMed study was conducted on to evaluate the effect of chlormequat-treated food on the reproduction of mice. It identified that “epididymal spermatozoa from mice on feed or water containing chlormequat had compromised fertilizing competence in vitro, while reproduction in female mice was not compromised.”

Another PubMed research on human urine samples collected during the period from 2017 to 2023 revealed the presence of increased levels of chlormequat in the samples collected in 2023. It also identified “high detection frequencies of chlormequat in oat-based foods.” This increase in chlormequat toxicity in humans alarm the bell for the need of more expansive toxicity studies.

The EPA risk assessment registration review documents submitted by the manufacturers of chlormequat noted that it might harm the nervous system in rats, mice and dogs.

Deadly Side Effects of Chlormequat

According to the results from the Anresco lab results, chlormequat exposure can cause the following health issues in mammals:

  • Alters metabolism
  • Changes head and bones development in fetus
  • Changes sperm’s ability to move efficiently
  • Decreases testosterone production
  • Delays development during puberty
  • Disrupts fetal growth
  • Harms the nervous system

According to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, the exposure to chlormequat chloride can result in the following:

  • Chlormequat Chloride can affect you when breathed in and by passing through your skin.
  • Contact can cause skin and eye irritation.
  • Breathing Chlormequat Chloride can irritate the nose and throat.
  • Chlormequat Chloride can irritate the lungs causing coughing and/or shortness of breath. Higher exposures can cause a build-up of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema), a medical emergency, with severe shortness of breath.
  • Exposure to Chlormequat Chloride can cause nausea and vomiting. Higher levels can cause slow or irregular heartbeat, tremors, seizures, and coma. This may be fatal.
  • Chlormequat Chloride may damage the liver.

As per the report published in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, chlormequat exposure could cause the signs and symptoms listed below:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Drowsiness
  • Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • Increased salivation
  • Irritation and burning on eyes, skin, and mucous membranes
  • Light-headedness
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Pupillary dilation
  • Slurred speech
  • Stridor (high pitched, noisy respirations)
  • Unprompted vomiting
  • Development of apathy and mental confusion with progression to coma and death

Quaker Oats Pesticide Lawsuit Updates

As the Quaker Oats pesticide lawsuit is still in infancy, we cannot predict the course of it. It may grow with more plaintiffs being added ore more individual lawsuits may be filed if plaintiffs come forward with adverse event reports and personal injury claims.

However, it would take some time to know how it proceeds. Stay tuned with us to know the Quaker Oats lawsuit updates 2024.

Other Quaker Oats Lawsuits

Quaker Oats is not unfamiliar to lawsuits. It has encountered a few lawsuits on the presence of glyphosate and Salmonella contamination earlier.

Quaker Oats Salmonella Lawsuit

On January 24, 2024, Raymond Kessler filed a Quaker Oats Salmonella class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants deceptively marketed the products with misleading labels that failed to disclose that the consumption of its products could increase the risk of Salmonella contamination. “Salmonella can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and fever.”

The lawsuit allegations were based on the following causes:

  • Violation of New York GBL § 349
  • Violation of New York GBL § 350

The lawsuit demanded-class action status, monetary damages and treble damages, punitive damages, statutory damages of $500 per transaction, to establish a blood testing program for Plaintiff and the Class and litigation expenses.

Quaker Oats had initiated a product recall for Salmonella contamination on December 15, 2023 and later expended the recall on January 11, 2024. The first PepsiCo Quaker Oats recall mainly included granola bars and granola cereals. However, in the expanded recall later, snack mixes and more cereal products were included. No serious illnesses or deaths on the contaminated Quaker Oats products had been reported to the FDA until January 2024.

As per the recall terms, with proof, consumers can get full refund for the purchase. If without proof, the refund varies.

Quaker Oats granola class action lawsuit (Salmonella)

On December 27, 2023, Teresa Herendeen filed a putative class action lawsuit in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. This Quaker Oats granola class action lawsuit purported that Quaker Oats failed to ensure the quality and safety of the granola products, which led to the recall of 90 plus products. Though Quaker products were advertised as beneficial to one’s health, it contained a harmful bacteria called Salmonella.

Quaker Oats should have known the adverse effects of Salmonella contamination as most of their products “are marketed to vulnerable persons, particularly children.” They failed to disclose the possible Salmonella contamination from their products was considered “material, false, misleading, and reasonably likely to deceive the public.”

The allegations in this Quaker Oats lawsuit 2023 were rooted on-

  • Negligence
  • Breach of Express Warranty
  • Breach of Implied Warranty of Merchantability
  • Fraudulent Misrepresentation
  • Fraud by Omission
  • Unjust Enrichment

Both the Salmonella class action lawsuits await legal procedures.

Quaker Oats Glyphosate Lawsuit

Morgan Steckler filed a class action lawsuit in California federal court on October 26, 2018. The Quaker Oats glyphosate lawsuit alleged that Quaker products advertised as “100% Whole Grain” and with “NON GMO” ingredients were proved to have the presence of glyphosate, a known weed killing pesticide found in Roundup.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has identified glyphosate as a known human carcinogen.

The Quaker products claimed to “reduce the risk of heart disease,” as they “help reduce cholesterol,” actually could cause potential harm to human health. Quaker failed to ensure the safety of the products by not removing the glyphosate residues before marketing them.

The lawsuit accused Quaker Oats of being deceptive and fraudulent and having violated the consumer protection laws like California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act.

How to file or join Quaker Oats class action lawsuit?

Are you affected by the contaminated Quaker products? Contact a Quaker Oats pesticide lawsuit attorney to know the prospects of your claim. He will guide you whether to join the existing lawsuit or to file a new one based on the nature of your claim.

If you’re considering joining the Quaker Oats class action lawsuit due to chlormequat contaminated products, it’s crucial to stay informed about the proceedings and understand the steps involved. Here’s how you can proceed further:

  • Consult an Attorney: Get advice from a lawyer experienced in class actions and consumer rights.
  • Gather Evidence: Collect all relevant documents, like receipts and medical records.
  • Register for the Class Action: If deciding to join, complete necessary forms through your lawyer.
  • Consider Opting Out: To pursue an individual lawsuit, opt out before the deadline.
  • Claim Settlement: If part of the class action, submit a claim form when a settlement is reached.
  • Watch Deadlines: Be aware of all deadlines for joining, opting out, or claiming settlements.
  • Evaluate Impact: Joining the class action could lead to broader company changes and potentially larger settlements.

What could be the future implications of Quaker Oats lawsuits?

The Quaker Oats pesticide lawsuit may bring a change in several factors discussed below.

Regulatory Oversight

This case may prompt regulatory bodies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to revisit their policies on pesticide tolerances and usage in food crops. Enhanced scrutiny and potentially stricter regulations could emerge, aiming to protect public health without imposing undue burdens on the agriculture sector.

Transparency and Labeling

There may be a push for more transparent labeling practices that require food companies to disclose the use of pesticides or other chemicals in their products. This could lead to an increase in demand for organic or pesticide-free products, reshaping market trends and consumer preferences.

Consumer Trust and Brand Image

The lawsuit underscores the importance of maintaining consumer trust through honesty and integrity as advertised by Quaker Oats in their brand logo. Brands found to be lacking in transparency may suffer long-term damage to their reputation, prompting a reevaluation of marketing strategies and product development processes.

Innovation in Pest Management

The controversy surrounding chlormequat could accelerate the search for safer, more sustainable pest management techniques. Biotechnology and organic farming practices might gain further traction as viable alternatives to chemical pesticides.

Legal and Financial Risks

The food industry might witness an uptick in litigation over food safety and labeling issues, leading companies to allocate more resources to risk management and compliance. This could affect profit margins but also drive improvements in product quality and safety.

To wind up,

As consumers grow increasingly concerned nowadays about what goes into their food, the Quaker Oats pesticide lawsuit underscores the critical need for transparency and rigorous safety standards in the food industry. In a world where trust is as essential as the food we eat, the outcome of this lawsuit will reverberate far beyond the courtroom, potentially shaping future policies and practices in the food industry for years to come.

However, as consumers the responsibility of ensuring the safety of the food in our bowl, we have to be informed and vigilant.

Be Vigilant! Be Safe!

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