Quantcast

Baby Food Tests Find 68 Percent Contain 'Worrisome' Levels of Heavy Metals

Food
Baby son in high chair feeding father. Getty Images

Testing published by Consumer Reports (CR) Thursday found "concerning levels" of toxic metals in popular U.S. baby and toddler food.

The consumer advocacy group tested 50 nationally-distributed, packaged foods designed for toddlers and babies for mercury, cadmium, arsenic and lead.


They found that every product they tested had measurable amounts of cadmium, inorganic arsenic or lead, that 68 percent had "worrisome" levels of at least one heavy metal and that 15 of the foods contained enough to constitute a health risk for a child eating one serving or less a day. Foods containing rice or sweet potatoes were especially impacted and there was no difference between organic and non-organic options.

Heavy metal consumption can have an outsized impact on children's health cognitive development because they are smaller, their organs are still developing and they absorb more of the metals they consume than adults do. But CR Chief Scientific Officer James Dickerson advised parents not to panic.

"The heavy metal content in baby and toddler foods is a concerning issue but not an imminent threat," he said. "The risk comes from exposure over time, and the risk can be mitigated. Making changes to your child's diet now can reduce the chance of negative outcomes in the future."

Since rice products were the most likely to have worrying amounts of inorganic arsenic, and rice absorbs 10 times the arsenic from contaminated soil compared to other grains, CR advised that parents limit their children's intake of rice cereals, and swap them out for cereals made of other grains, like oats.

When parents do serve rice, CR recommended white basmati rice from California, India and Pakistan and sushi rice from the U.S. cooked in six to ten parts water per one part rice.

CR also recommended that parents avoid packaged snacks and opt for low-metal foods like apples, applesauce, peaches, strawberries, avocados, bananas, grapes, yogurt, barley with vegetables, beans, cheese and hard-boiled eggs.

While the test was designed to sample the whole market and not single out particular products, CR did publish serving limits for some known products.

For example, it recommended limiting servings of Gerber Chicken & Rice and Gerber Turkey & Rice to less than one per day and servings of Beech-Nut Classics Sweet Potato to less than 0.5 servings a day.

However, not everything should have to fall on parents. The findings also highlight the fact that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not yet regulate and test baby foods more thoroughly than adult foods.

The FDA has proposed limiting inorganic arsenic in baby rice cereal to 100 parts per billion and in apple juice to 10 parts per billion, guidelines they told CR they would have finalized by 2018.

But CR would eventually like to see them move to set and enforce a target of zero heavy metals in infant foods.

"In about a third of the products we tested, the amounts of heavy metals were below our level of concern, and for some of the products, amounts of some metals were not measurable," CR Director of Food Safety Research and Testing James E. Rogers said. "Every category of food we tested was represented in that lower-risk group. That indicates that there are ways for manufacturers to significantly reduce or eliminate these metals from their products."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Mike Mozart / Flicker / CC BY 2.0

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of baby powder on Friday after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found trace amounts of asbestos in one of its bottles.

Read More Show Less
Electric towers during golden hour. Pixabay / Pexels

An international group of scientists released a report today detailing how the fossil fuel industry actively campaigned to sow doubt about the climate crisis and what steps need to be taken to undo the damage, as the Los Angeles Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Justin Trudeau delivers remarks during an election rally in Markham, Ontario, Canada, on Sept. 15. Creative Touch Imaging Ltd. / NurPhoto via Getty Images

By Chloe Farand for Climate Home News

Canadians are voting on Monday in an election observers say will define the country's climate future.

Read More Show Less
Activists Greta Thunberg (2ndL), Iris Duquesne(C), and Alexandria Villaseñor (3rd R) attend a press conference where 16 children present their official human rights complaint on the climate crisis to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child at the UNICEF Building on Sept. 23 in NYC. KENA BETANCUR / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Taft

Fifteen kids from a dozen countries, including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, recently brought a formal complaint to the United Nations. They're arguing that climate change violates children's rights as guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a global agreement.

Read More Show Less
Cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on could fall heavily on the public.
Susan Vineyard / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Justin Mikulka

Increasingly, U.S. shale firms appear unable to pay back investors for the money borrowed to fuel the last decade of the fracking boom. In a similar vein, those companies also seem poised to stiff the public on cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Blue tarps given out by FEMA cover several roofs two years after Hurricane Maria affected the island in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 18. RICARDO ARDUENGO / AFP / Getty Images

Top officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development confirmed to lawmakers last week that they knowingly — and illegally — stalled hurricane aid to Puerto Rico.

Read More Show Less
Actress Jane Fonda (C) and actor Sam Waterston (L) participate in a protest in front of the U.S. Capitol during a "Fire Drill Fridays" climate change protest and rally on Capitol Hill, Oct. 18. Mark Wilson / Getty Images News

It appears Jane Fonda is good for her word. The actress and political activist said she would hold demonstrations on Capitol Hill every Friday through January to demand action on the climate crisis. Sure enough, Fonda was arrested for demonstrating a second Friday in a row Oct. 18, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Only this time, her Grace and Frankie co-star Sam Waterston joined her.

Read More Show Less
Visitors look at the Aletsch glacier above Bettmeralp, in the Swiss Alps, on Oct. 1. The mighty Aletsch — the largest glacier in the Alps — could completely disappear by the end of this century if nothing is done to rein in climate change, a study showed on Sept. 12. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

Switzerland's two Green parties made historic gains in the country's parliamentary elections Sunday, according to projections based on preliminary results reported by The New York Times.

Read More Show Less