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Congressional investigators have reported that ingredients in many popular baby foods are laced with heavy metals like lead, cadmium, and arsenic. According to the reports released on Feb. 4, 2021, these toxic levels are found to be much higher than those allowed in other products — such as bottled water.
Some experts have stated their report underscores the federal government’s persistent lax in overseeing the safety of baby food. These lax guidelines are a great risk to infants and toddlers all over the United States.
Exposure to heavy metals has been linked to brain damage, behavioral impairments, and in severe cases death.
Director of the program on reproductive health and the environment at the University of California — located in San Francisco — Tracey Woodruff stated, “This is an endemic problem” that she believes has “been swept under the rug and never addressed.” Woodruff was not involved in the composition of the congressional report.
It speaks to the many areas that we need government to be active in. Consumers can’t figure it out on their own.
A subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform requested data from four companies regarding their test results and testing policies of their baby foods. The report was created from the results they received.
The companies that chose not to provide the requested information are:
- Walmart which sells Parents’ Choice products including Parents’ Choice Organic;
- Sprout Organic Foods;
- And Campbell Soup Company’s Plum Organic baby foods.
Chairman of the subcommittee — Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, Democrat of Illinois — stated the lack of requested information “raises the concern that perhaps they have evidence of even higher metallic content in their baby foods…”
Representatives for Campbell Soup and Walmart dispute the claim. However, they admitted they failed to provide the testing data on their baby food. At this time Sprout has not commented about the subject.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not set specific limits on heavy metals allowed in baby food. The only exception they have is the limit of arsenic allowed in rice cereal.
They do regulate the levels of lead allowed in juice, candy, and bottled water. Furthermore, the FDA limits the levels of cadmium and arsenic allowed in bottled water.
Krishnamoorthi has stated that he plans to introduce legislation to tighten the regulatory oversight of companies that produce baby foods.
A spokesman for the FDA has claimed the agency has been working towards reducing toxins in baby foods. The first step was setting limits on allowed arsenic levels in infant rice cereal. The spokesman admits this limit has been criticized by expert groups — claiming the set level is still too high.
Very rarely do companies test their baby foods before sending them out to market. Only two companies have been noted to actually test their products before shipping them out — Nurture and Hain Celestial.
These two companies have adopted the same guideline that is allowed for rice cereal. The proposed limit of inorganic arsenic at levels exceeding 100 parts per billion.
This has many parents extremely concerned over the baby foods they feed their children. Many people feel their concerns are justified.
Written by Sheena Robertson
The New York Times: Some Baby Food May Contain Toxic Metals, U.S. Reports; by Roni Caryn Rabin
Inline Image Courtesy of Chelsea Stirlen’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Featured Image Courtesy of Katie Mollon’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License