Some Popular Baby Foods May Contain Unsafe Levels of Heavy Metals

A new study from Consumer Reports intimates that many types of food commonly fed to babies and toddlers, unfortunately, contain “measurable levels” of heavy metals.  As a matter of fact, roughly 70 percent of the products tested—50 different packaged foods made for infants and toddlers, including entrees, vegetables, and fruits—actually contain “worrisome levels” of at least one heavy metal.  Heavy metals are chemicals like cadmium, lead, and inorganic arsenic.

According to the study, at least 15 of the foods sampled could pose potential [significant] health threats to any child who regularly consumes one serving a day; or even less than a serving. These 15 food items include things like brands like Earth’s Best:

  • Organic Chicken & Brown Rice
  • Turkey
  • Organic Sweet Potatoes, 1stStage
  • Organic Sunny Days Snack Bars
  • Whole Grain Rice Cereal

Gerber:

  • Turkey & Rice
  • Lil’ Meals White Turkey Stew with Rice & Vegetables
  • Carrot, Pear & Blackberry
  • Carrots, Peas, & Corn with Lil’ Bits

Happy Baby Organics:

  • Superfood Puffs Purple Carrot & Blueberry
  • Puffs, Apple & Broccoli

Other brands include Sprout Organic, Beech-Nut, and Plum Organics

This is important, of course, because things like infant rice cereal and mashed sweet potatoes are often among the first solid foods that parents feed to babies, typically because they are easy to digest.

In response to the report, Sprout commented, “We are a responsible company with high safety standards for our ingredients and our products. We are continuing to work with the fruit and vegetable industry to look for the cleanest source of ingredients.”

While he was not involved with the study, University of California San Francisco Western States Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit co-director, Dr. Mark Miller, explains, “There needs to be enforceable standards for the amount of lead and other heavy metals allowable in food meant for children’s consumption.”

At the end of the day, Consumer Reports chief scientific officer James Dickerson noted, “One of the takeaways is that parents and families should take a balanced approach on the types of food they give to kids. For those foods that have elevated amounts of heavy elements, moderate or reduce the amount you end up feeding your children and think about this as a long-term issue.”

Miller also goes on to note that parents who want to provide their children with safe nutrition should simply diversify the child’s diet.  He advises, “The American Academy of Pediatrics and others don’t specifically identify rice cereal as a key need. Either avoiding it or at least using multigrain, barley or other cereal options as well as rice cereal in infants is a good option.”

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