What none of us ever want is for the food we feed our babies to contain toxic metals, yet according to a congressional report released by the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, four popular baby food companies’ products contain just that.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois stated:
Dangerous levels of toxic metals like arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury exist in baby foods at levels that exceed what experts and governing bodies say are permissible.
Perhaps even worse? The companies in question knew about it.
Internal testing done by Gerber; Beech-Nut Nutrition Company; Nurture, Inc., which sells Happy Baby products; and Hain Celestial Group, Inc., which sells Earth’s Best Organic baby food, showed levels of heavy metals far above limits set for bottled water by the FDA and the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Baby food ingredients in certain products contained up to 91 times the inorganic arsenic level, up to 177 times the lead level, up to 69 times the cadmium level, and up to five times the mercury level allowed in bottled water, the report said, yet the companies still approved those products for sale.
These elements are naturally found in soil, so avoiding them altogether is impossible, but experts say certain locations contain higher levels of these elements than others, and crops grown there, regardless of whether they’re labeled as organic or not, can contribute to toxic levels in foods.
While these elements can certainly be damaging to the developing brains of babies and children, experts say there’s no need to panic. Instead of rage-tossing all the baby food in the cupboard, simply feed them to babies in moderation. Consumer Reports’ James Dickerson advises parents to “limit rice and sweet potato products, which tend to absorb more pollutants because of the way they are grown,” to “avoid snacks like crackers and puffs, which in Consumer Reports’ investigation had higher levels of heavy metals,” and to “vary their child’s diet.”
As for next steps, the report suggests the FDA may need to consider legislation that standardizes maximum levels per product rather than per single food item, and the subcommittee is calling for mandatory testing of all baby products before they reach the market rather than testing of single ingredients only, which, when added together, contribute to the toxic levels found in these foods.