Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Arsenic and Other Toxins Found in 80% of Baby Formulas

Food
Arsenic and Other Toxins Found in 80% of Baby Formulas
iStock

By Daniele Selby

Arsenic, lead, and cadmium are chemicals you'd expect to find in rat poison and batteries—not baby formula.

But on Wednesday, the Clean Label Project, an initiative that tests products for industrial and environmental contaminants and rates them, said it found arsenic in 80 percent of infant formulas, according to USA Today. In fact, the study—which has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal—found that certified some organic baby food products had more than twice the amount of arsenic found in the conventional baby foods it tested.


The group looked at 86 different types of baby formulas and checked for more than 130 different toxins ranging from heavy metals to cancer-linked chemicals, the Clean Label Project's website says.

"It is important for consumers to understand that some contaminants, such as heavy metals like lead or arsenic, are in the environment and cannot simply be removed from food," an FDA spokesperson, told USA Today.

Though arsenic was the most common harmful chemical found in baby formulas, cadmium—which is used in batteries and as a plastic stabilizer—was also detected with alarming frequency. The study found that soy-based infant formulas had about seven times more cadmium, used in batteries, than other types of baby formula.

Both arsenic and cadmium are carcinogens that may cause cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

Last year, the US Food and Drug Administration proposed a regulation which would limit the amount of arsenic allowed in infant rice cereal, but the limit is not yet being enforced.

The Clean Label Project also found lead in 36 percent of 500 baby food products it tested—a finding that backs up the Environmental Defense Fund's research which detected lead in about 20 percent of baby food samples.

The World Health Organization urges women to breastfeed infants if possible, noting that breastmilk has antibodies that are not found in formula, and is an affordable, nutritious food source that can foster healthy development. The WHO also warns that in communities that lack access to safe water, formula that has to be mixed with water can pose an additional risk.

The majority of baby food products and baby formula is sold in North America and Europe—87 percent and 66 percent, respectively, according to Nielsen's Global Baby Care Report—but formula is becoming more popular in developing countries.

The WHO and UNICEF recommend that mothers try breastfeeding within an hour of their baby's birth, and continue to breastfeed if it is an option until the infant is six months old. At that point, both organizations recommend introducing "nutritionally-adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods."

But the WHO says "few children receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods." And according to UNICEF, "poor nutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child's life can also lead to stunted growth, which is irreversible and associated with impaired cognitive ability and reduced school and work performance."

Malnutrition and undernutrition are major issues in many developing countries, like Chad and India. Around the world, nearly 155 million children under the age of five are stunted, and 52 million children are malnourished, UNICEF reported.

Global Citizen campaigns to eliminate hunger worldwide. You can take action here.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Global Citizen.

A seagull flies in front of the Rampion offshore wind farm in the United Kingdom. Neil / CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

A key part of the United States' clean energy transition has started to take shape, but you may need to squint to see it. About 2,000 wind turbines could be built far offshore, in federal waters off the Atlantic Coast, in the next 10 years. And more are expected.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Frank La Sorte and Kyle Horton

Millions of birds travel between their breeding and wintering grounds during spring and autumn migration, creating one of the greatest spectacles of the natural world. These journeys often span incredible distances. For example, the Blackpoll warbler, which weighs less than half an ounce, may travel up to 1,500 miles between its nesting grounds in Canada and its wintering grounds in the Caribbean and South America.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Kevin Maillefer / Unsplash

By Lynne Peeples

Editor's note: This story is part of a nine-month investigation of drinking water contamination across the U.S. The series is supported by funding from the Park Foundation and Water Foundation. Read the launch story, "Thirsting for Solutions," here.

In late September 2020, officials in Wrangell, Alaska, warned residents who were elderly, pregnant or had health problems to avoid drinking the city's tap water — unless they could filter it on their own.

Read More Show Less
Eat Just's cell-based chicken nugget is now served at Singapore restaurant 1880. Eat Just, Inc.

At a time of impending global food scarcity, cell-based meats and seafood have been heralded as the future of food.

Read More Show Less
New Zealand sea lions are an endangered species and one of the rarest species of sea lions in the world. Art Wolfe / Photodisc / Getty Images

One city in New Zealand knows what its priorities are.

Dunedin, the second largest city on New Zealand's South Island, has closed a popular road to protect a mother sea lion and her pup, The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less