Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Toxic Metals Found in 95 Percent of Baby Foods

Food
Toxic Metals Found in 95 Percent of Baby Foods

Heavy metals that may damage a developing brain are present in 95 percent of baby foods on the market. Cirou Frederic / PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections / Getty Images

Heavy metals that may damage a developing brain are present in 95 percent of baby foods on the market, according to new research from the advocacy organization Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF), which bills itself as an alliance of scientists, nonprofit organizations and donors trying to reduce exposures to neurotoxic chemicals during the first three years of development.


Researchers commissioned by HBBF looked at 168 different baby foods that spanned 61 brands commonly found on grocery store shelves. From that large sample, 95 percent were contaminated with one or more of four toxic heavy metals — arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury.

The high prevalence of the toxic metals meant that 26 percent of the foods tested had all four of the heavy metals.

"Arsenic, lead and other heavy metals are known causes of neurodevelopmental harm," said Dr. Philip Landrigan, a pediatrician and director of the Program in Global Public Health and the Common Good in the Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society at Boston College, in an HBBF issued statement. "Low level exposures add up, and exposures in early life are especially dangerous. The cumulative impact of exposures is what makes this a significant concern that demands action."

Foods with the highest concentration of neurotoxins tended to be rice-based products, sweet potatoes and fruit juices, according to the report.

"Even in the trace amounts found in food, these contaminants can alter the developing brain and erode a child's IQ. The impacts add up with each meal or snack a baby eats," said the analysis, as CNN reported.

Four of seven infant rice cereals had a toxic form of arsenic in excess of the FDA's threshold of 100 parts per billion (ppb).

"These popular baby foods are not only high in inorganic arsenic, the most toxic form of arsenic, but also are nearly always contaminated with all four toxic metals," the analysis said, as CNN reported.

The report also found that 83 percent of baby foods tested had more lead than the 1-ppb limit endorsed by public health advocates, and one of every five foods tested had over 10 times that amount.

"Even very low exposure levels cause lower academic achievement, attention deficits and behavior problems. No safe level of exposure has been identified," the report said.

The results are not far off from an FDA study that found one of the four toxic metals present in 33 of 39 baby foods, according to CNN. However, this new report looks at a much broader range of products and brands than previous studies have.

The HBBF has started a petition to ask the FDA to set stricter limits on arsenic levels in baby food to protect a baby's brain development.

"Current arsenic contamination levels in rice cereal and juice are 36% and 75% less, respectively, than the amounts measured a decade ago," said HBBF research director and study author Jane Houlihan in a statement. "When FDA acts, companies respond. We need the FDA to use their authority more effectively, and much more quickly, to reduce toxic heavy metals in baby foods."

In lieu of tighter regulations, the HBBF report recommends parents take steps to protect their babies by offering them rice-free snacks, frozen bananas and chilled cucumbers instead of teething biscuits, oatmeal instead of rice-cereal, and offering a wide-variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

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