The Dangerous Ingredient You Need To Watch Out For In Hummus

Yummy, healthy, and good with chips — what's not to love about hummus? Unfortunately, a study from Canada's Environmental Defence and Équiterre found that over 80 percent of the food samples they tested contained a dangerous chemical called glyphosate, with the highest concentrations occurring in hummus.

Although you may not be familiar with the name "glyphosate," you may recognize this herbicide by its brand name, Roundup (via National Pesticide Information Center). In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. Glyphosate is commonly used to dry fields of beans, oats, and wheat so that they can be harvested, but is absorbed more easily by crops that stay "wet" longer — like chickpeas (via FoodPrint). 

According to a study from the University of California San Diego, glyphosate residue was significantly higher in both animals and humans with liver disease than in subjects with healthier livers. While these studies are unable to determine that glyphosate absolutely causes disease, it makes sense to err on the side of caution until more details are available.

Does this mean you should stop eating store-bought hummus?

Major food companies such as Kellogg and Ben & Jerry's are pledging to eliminate glyphosate in their supply chains, largely due to pressure from lawsuits alleging that chemical exposure in their brands caused cancer (via Food Business News). Additionally, in 2019, the Keep Food Safe from Glyphosate bill was introduced, which would dramatically decrease the permissible amount of the pesticide in consumer goods (via Rosa DeLauro).

In the meantime, don't eliminate chickpeas from your diet altogether. It's a healthy, delicious staple that provides a ton of nutritional benefits, is high in fiber, and is protein-rich (via Well+Good). If you're worried about potential exposure, opt for brands that are low in glyphosate. Many of the brands with the lowest amounts are organic or store-brands, including Park Street Deli, Good & Gather, and Simple Truth Organic (via Eat This, Not That!). In fact, a study from the Journal of Environmental Research determined that an organic diet could reduce your glyphosate levels in just six days. 

If you love hummus, you can also source the ingredients yourself — it's simple and easy to whip up.