ZEGO now offers QR codes on its fruit-and-seed bars and snack mixes with the results of tests checking for traces of the widely used weedkiller glyphosate, which is under scrutiny in court.

The company, which didn’t detect measurable amounts of glyphosate residue in its first tests in July, had already offered customers who scanned codes with smartphones the results of lab checks for gluten and common allergens.

The San Francisco-based business announced it added glyphosate testing after a jury ordered agricultural giant Monsanto to pay $289 million to a school groundskeeper who argued the company’s herbicides with the chemical caused his cancer. Monsanto, which recently completed a merger with Bayer, says Roundup and its other products are safe, and it plans to appeal.

“Our Z-CODE system empowers our customers to make an informed choice over what they put in their bodies,” ZEGO CEO Colleen Kavanagh says. “This isn’t about personal preference—chemical, allergen or gluten exposure may have major health implications for them.”

The company is seeking a patent for its Z-CODE system, which communicates test results and other information that might vary by batch, Kavanagh says.

ZEGO’s traceability system uses blockchain technology to collect and distribute suppliers’ information that it wants to share with consumers. The shared ledger system allows partner companies to record transactions, so the handling of products can be verified.

ZEGO also plans to use glyphosate testing to track whether its suppliers stick to organic growing practices.

Glyphosate tests will be done two to three times a year, a rate that would capture evidence of the chemical, typically sprayed at the start of the growing season, Kavanagh says.

While allergen testing by batch is important because of the severe health threat for some people, the glyphosate testing is more about the growing practices at the farms ZEGO buys from, she says.

The bars and snack mixes are produced in a facility free of eight allergens, and each batch is tested by a third-party lab for gluten, soy, peanuts and dairy. One scan shows testing results for those four and glyphosate, and the results also are posted on the company’s website.

Glyphosate received more attention in August when the advocacy organization Environmental Working Group released a report that said some oat products, including Quaker Old Fashioned Oats and Cheerios, contained a level that it says could increase the risk of cancer.

Quaker and General Mills, which makes Cheerios, say the products are safe and follow federal standards.    

For more information, visit  www.zegosnacks.com