Posted on January 24th, 2022
A recent study evaluated the presence of minerals, toxic elements, and hydroxymethylfurfural in infant food and formula. Researchers examined 32 infant products manufactured by different companies, selected through convenience sampling from local pharmacies and supermarkets.
The toxic substances and elements in infant food and formula can be neo-formed contaminants or derived from raw materials or processing. For instance, cadmium, arsenic, lead, and mercury often end up in these products because they were absorbed by crops from soil and water. However, in addition to assessing the concentration of heavy metals in infant food and formula, this study also tested the products for hydroxymethylfurfural, a food improvement agent, mainly used in the form of a food additive as a biomarker and as a flavoring agent. Like heavy metals, exposure to hydroxymethylfurfural has numerous negative consequences on human health, including cytotoxicity toward mucous membranes, the skin, and the upper respiratory tract, mutagenicity, chromosomal aberrations, and carcinogenicity.
There are multiple reasons why infants are more susceptible to experiencing the negative health effects of toxic agents in food, such as:
Cadmium, arsenic, lead, and mercury are contaminants that can accumulate in infant food through the food chain, during food processing, or leakage from packaging materials. Their impact on infants depends on the nature and concentration of the element concerned, as some elements are essential for the human diet, while others can be highly toxic. Hydroxymethylfurfural is a neo-formed contaminant in food, resulting from a series of reactions, starting with a reaction between a free amino group and the carbonyl group of a reducing sugar, or it can stem from the direct dehydration of sugars. Although it is not present in fresh food, hydroxymethylfurfural is found in processed foods such as jams, fruit juices, and syrups.
The purpose of the study was to assess the content of minerals, toxic metals, and hydroxymethylfurfural in infant food and formula. This provided researchers with a very useful insight concerning the potential effects of undesirable substances within a vulnerable group.
Accordingly, 32 infant foods from 4 different companies were randomly selected via convenience sampling from local pharmacies and supermarkets and categorized as apple, pear, prune, fish, and poultry. 6 infant formulae from 3 different manufacturers were randomly collected from local pharmacies and were categorized as beginner infant formulae for children between 0 and 6 months and formulae for children between 6 and 12 months. The content of hydroxymethylfurfural was determined according to a spectrophotometric method. These are the most relevant findings of this research:
Even though ensuring food quality is the manufacturer's responsibility, authorities worldwide do not control food products for safety. Multiple reports have shown that baby food may contain contaminants, including microorganisms, mycotoxin, aromatic compounds, furans, and metals. There is no limit for hydroxymethylfurfural content in food, apart from honey at 40 mg/kg in usual environmental conditions, 80 mg/kg for honey produced in tropical climates, and 15 mg/kg for honey with low enzymatic activity. This makes it difficult to determine whether acceptable or excessive levels of this substance are found in the tested foods.
This is just another study that confirms the presence of heavy metals and other contaminants of concern in baby food, namely in infant food, which only worsens the situation, as newborns are even more vulnerable to the negative impact of heavy metals than toddlers. For this reason, we advise you to pay close attention to the products you feed your baby, as there is a strong connection between toxic baby food and the risk of autism spectrum disorders, among other health problems in children. To find out which companies manufacture baby food with heavy metals and see which specific products are contaminated, visit the page linked above. Until the baby food containing toxic metals is off the shelves, parents should be very cautious with regard to what they feed their infants and toddlers.