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

Pixabay

By Alina Petre, MS, RD (CA)

Purple cabbage, also referred to as red cabbage, belongs to the Brassica genus of plants. This group includes nutrient-dense vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Lauren Wolahan

For the first time ever, the UN is building out a roadmap for curbing carbon pollution from agriculture. To take part in that process, a coalition of U.S. farmers traveled to the UN climate conference in Madrid, Spain this month to make the case for the role that large-scale farming operations, long criticized for their outsized emissions, can play in addressing climate change.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Rachael Link, MS, RD

In recent years, acai bowls have become one of the most hyped-up health foods on the market.

They're prepared from puréed acai berries — which are fruits grown in Central and South America — and served as a smoothie in a bowl or glass, topped with fruit, nuts, seeds, or granola.

Read More Show Less
Investing in grid infrastructure would enable utilities to incorporate modern technology, making the grid more resilient and flexible. STRATMAN2 / FLICKR

By Elliott Negin

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences' recent decision to award the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to scientists who developed rechargeable lithium-ion batteries reminded the world just how transformative they have been. Without them, we wouldn't have smartphones or electric cars. But it's their potential to store electricity generated by the sun and the wind at their peak that promises to be even more revolutionary, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and protecting the planet from the worst consequences of climate change.

Read More Show Less
Two Javan rhinos deep in the forests of Ujung Kulon National Park, the species' last habitat on Earth. Sugeng Hendratno / WWF

By Basten Gokkon

The global population of the critically endangered Javan rhinoceros has increased to 72 after four new calves were spotted in the past several months.

Read More Show Less