Baby foods with arsenic and lead stay on shelves: report

  • Manufacturers and the FDA aren’t doing enough to keep toxic heavy metals out of baby food, according to a new report.
  • The congressional report said a company had failed to produce products containing high levels of arsenic.
  • The report urges manufacturers to test their end products and the FDA to tighten its guidelines.

Major brands of baby food contain high levels of toxic heavy metals like arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury – and manufacturers are not doing enough to protect their youngest customers, an American government report out Wednesday said.

Childhood exposure to heavy metals is linked to permanent drops in IQ and damaged long-term brain function.

“Today’s report reveals that companies not only underestimate the high levels of toxic content in their baby foods, but also knowingly keep toxic products in the market,” he added. the House Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee said in a statement.

This isn’t the first report to warn about toxic metals in baby food

A February report from the same subcommittee gathered documents and test results from seven of the country’s largest baby food manufacturers. They discovered that baby food contained up to 91 times the level of arsenic, up to 177 times the level of lead, up to 69 times the level of cadmium and up to 5 times the level of mercury allowed. in bottled water.

Investigators recommended that the FDA require baby food manufacturers to test finished products for toxic heavy metals and label products that contain them. Manufacturers should also be encouraged to “phase out” ingredients containing toxic heavy metals, according to the report, while the FDA should set a limit on toxic metals allowed in baby foods.

In the latest report, the subcommittee said baby food companies haven’t changed their habits enough and the FDA is not acting fast enough.

Report calls five companies

The report called out Beech-Nut for recalling only two of its six products that contained more inorganic arsenic than the FDA limit. “Gerber was even worse”, said subcommittee statement said, because despite two products exceeding the FDA’s arsenic limit, the company “has taken no action to notify the public or remove them from the shelves.”

Plum Organics baby foods have also been mentioned for their high levels of inorganic arsenic, lead and cadmium.

The report says Walmart lowered its internal arsenic standard in 2018, “an extreme reversal of efforts to protect babies’ neurodevelopment.”

The committee also criticized the companies’ testing practices, calling Sprout “reckless” to only test once a year and not test finished products.

Manufacturers maintain their products are safe, with some contesting the report’s claims

In a statement to Insider, Beech-Nut Nutrition said it is reviewing the report and will work with the FDA and the Baby Food Council to improve industry standards.

A spokesperson for Gerber told Insider that the company has “a rigorous process for testing finished foods.” She said Gerber had not withdrawn its independently tested product above the FDA limits for arsenic since the FDA retested it “and confirmed to Gerber that no action was required “.

Campbell’s, which recently sold Plum Organics, said it continues to cooperate with the subcommittee and be transparent about its data. He noted that “certain elements are present throughout the environment and therefore these substances will be present in food to some extent.”

Walmart wrote in a statement that it adheres to the FDA guidelines, adding that the FDA “noted in April that its tests show children” are not at immediate health risk from being exposed. ” standards.

Sprout Organic Foods did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

How Parents Can Avoid Toxic Metals In Baby Food

The report says the FDA must speed up the publication of final limits for toxic metals in baby foods and require companies to test finished products. In the meantime, manufacturers should voluntarily test finished products and phase out those that contain the most problematic ingredients, like rice, the report says.

Dr Rashmi Jain, a pediatrician concierge and founder of BabiesMD, recommended that parents stay away from fruit juices and emphasize a varied diet to help avoid toxic metals, she told Insider after the February report. . Regular pediatrician visits can identify developmental issues, whether they are influenced by a child’s diet or something else.

“Small amounts of certain metals and minerals are actually important for the functioning of our bodies,” Jain said. “Higher levels of these metals in the body don’t mean our children will permanently develop neurotoxicity, it just increases their risk.”

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