The Soil Association has revealed that some batches of oats being sold in the UK as organic have been found to contain one or both of the pesticides Chlormequat and Glyphosate. Although these pesticides are commonly used in non-organic products, the levels present in the organic oats mean they can no longer legally be described as organic.

Random samples of the organic oats – between January and May 2008 – were taken for routine analysis, undertaken by the Pesticides Safety Directorate and confirmed by the Soil Association. However, it is not yet known the full extent of the contamination, the source of it or the extent to which any products are affected beyond those already identified by the Pesticides Safety Directorate. Urgent investigations are currently being carried out by the Soil Association, to determine which organic oats are affected.

“The Soil Association-certified producers, notified by the Pesticides Safety Directorate, have taken steps to check oat-based products currently on sale,” said Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett. “The advice of the Soil Association to those companies that currently have organic products on sale that have tested positive for pesticides is to withdraw them from sale to the public.”

Updates of additional findings will be posted on the Soil Association’s website, including the results of further testing and investigations, and with any product it knows to be affected, as soon as they are confirmed.