“Baby products used to hold a special position of public trust,” however, this is no longer the case. The House Oversight and Reform’s Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee released a report stating that baby foods are “tainted with dangerous levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury. These toxic heavy metals are declared dangerous to human health, according to The Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization. Children and babies are most vulnerable to the effects of toxic heavy metals, and even low levels of exposure can cause “serious and often irreversible damage to brain development”.
Effects of exposure to toxic heavy metals
- Permanent decrease in IQ
- Diminished future economic productivity
- May danger infant neurological development and long term brain function
Where does toxic heavy metals come from?
Naturally occurring toxic heavy metals contribute to the unsafe levels of toxicity in baby products. Crop fields contain varying levels of toxic heavy metals in the soil, due to metal containing pesticides and ongoing industrial pollution. However food manufacturers may also voluntarily add ingredients high in toxic heavy metals such as vitamin / mineral pre-mix.
Following allegations of high levels of toxic heavy metals in baby foods, the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy requested internal documents and test results from seven of the largest manufacturers of baby food in the United States. Out of the seven, only four of the companies responded to their request, suggesting that companies (Walmart, Campbell, Sprout Organic Foods) had something to hide. Independent testing conducted confirmed that baby foods sold by these companies contain concerning levels of toxic metals, which is a huge problem as their products are marketed to babies as young as 4 months.
Toxic heavy metal results:
Arsenic, lead and cadmium was present in all baby foods from all responding companies, while Mercury was detected in baby food for the only responding company that tested for it. The results are multiples higher than the maximum allowable levels dictated by the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. According to the report by the subcommittee, test results far exceeded those limits and were “up to 91 times the arsenic level, up to 177 times the lead level, up to 69 times the cadmium level, and up to 5 times the mercury level, ” resulting in a higher level of contaminants.
Other things to look out for:
- Nurture (HappyBABY) created its own internal standard for toxic metals, which exceeds the FDA limit by 15%, while Hain (Earth’s Best Organic) exceeded its internal policies under the guise of “theoretical calculations”.
- A secret slide presentation from Hain (Earth’s Best Organic) was ignored by the Trump Administration, which revealed that corporate policies test only ingredients and not final products. Inorganic arsenic in Hain baby foods were found to be “28%-93% higher in finished products. “
- Food producers may be adding ingredients that have high levels of toxic heavy metals into their products.
Parents: To this day, there is no warning label on toxic heavy metals on baby products. The Subcommittee urges parents to keep up with the news and avoid baby products containing ingredients that test high in toxic heavy metals. (Check out our article on determining if diapers are toxic for your baby.)
Manufacturers: Manufacturers should take responsibility and label their products transparently, and to report the levels of toxic heavy metals on food labels. Furthermore, manufacturers should voluntarily find substitutes for ingredients that are high in toxic heavy metals.
FDA: The FDA should set maximum levels toxic heavy metals allowed across all forms of baby foods and make mandatory testing to ensure that baby food products adhere to FDA regulations.
“Leading baby food manufacturers knowingly sold products with high ….” 5 Feb. 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/04/health/baby-food-heavy-metal-toxins-wellness/index.html. Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.
“Baby Foods Are Tainted with Dangerous Levels of Arsenic, Lead ….” https://oversight.house.gov/sites/democrats.oversight.house.gov/files/2021-02-04%20ECP%20Baby%20Food%20Staff%20Report.pdf. Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.
“Parents Erupt Over FDA Failure To Regulate Toxic Metals in Food ….” 28 Feb. 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/agenda/2021/02/28/fda-toxic-metals-food-471757. Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.