Oct. 17, 2019 — Nearly all foods made for babies contain at least one toxic heavy metal that can harm brain development, according to a large new study that tested 13 different types of baby foods, including puffs, infant formula, teething biscuits, juices, cereals, and purees.
The study was conducted by a nonprofit called Healthy Babies Bright Futures. It tested 168 containers from 61 brands for the heavy metals arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. The foods were purchased at major retail stores across the U.S.
Ninety-five percent of the baby foods tested contained one or more toxic metals. About a quarter of them contained all four. Only nine of the samples tested had no toxic metals detected.
The study points out that the FDA has failed to set safety limits or even health guidelines for 88% of the foods tested in the study. The authors have called on the agency to push baby food makers to take steps to lower heavy metals in their products.
The group, made up of scientists, pediatricians, and other experts, say even the trace amounts of heavy metals found in baby food can “alter the developing brain and erode a child’s IQ. The impacts add up with each meal or snack a baby eats.”
“What’s driving the problem is rice,” says Charlotte Brody, a registered nurse who is national director of Healthy Babies Bright Futures.
She says nearly all baby foods made with rice tested positive for toxins. Brody says the experts expected to find arsenic in rice products. That’s been a well-known problem for years. But, she says, they were surprised that they often found rice was tainted with lead, cadmium, and mercury, too.
Brody says if a baby food or snack contains rice, “our testing suggests there’s a problem.”
What’s more, she says, it doesn’t do you any good to buy organic or more expensive brands.
“I wish I could say you could shop your way out of this problem, but you can’t,” she says.
Other foods that contained arsenic included apple juice, 100% fruit juice blends, and grape juice.