What is really in baby food?

According to a national investigation led by the non-profit organization Healthy Babies Bright Futures, a whopping 95% of the baby food sold in the U.S. contains heavy metals and other toxic agents.

answered by Chandler Duncan

1 in 4 baby foods contains all heavy metals of concern

During the research led by the non-profit organization Healthy Babies Bright Futures, 168 individual containers of 13 different baby foods under 61 brands were tested for heavy metals, and the results were shocking, to say the least. The heavy metals that are the most hazardous, particularly to babies, are cadmium, arsenic, mercury, and lead. If you wonder how many baby foods were found to contain more than one heavy metal in a single container, here are the results of the study:

  • 4 metals: 26% of baby foods
  • 3 metals: 40% of baby foods
  • 2 metals: 21% of baby foods
  • 1 metal: 8% of baby foods

The baby foods examined include teething biscuits, apple juice, infant formula, snacks, rice cereal, meat, and vegetables, whereas some of the brands are Enfamil, Gerber, Earth's Best Organic, Beech-Nut, Parent's Choice, and Sprout. When it comes to the locations from which they were purchased for the research, these were supermarkets, dollar stores, baby stores, and superstores. The following are the percentages of baby food in which each heavy metal was found:

  • arsenic: 73% of baby food
  • lead: 94% of baby food
  • cadmium: 75% of baby food
  • mercury: 32% of baby food

Consequently, baby food companies need to take urgent measures to reduce the concentration of heavy metals in their products. This action is especially important for foods that pose the greatest risk to the development of the baby, such as arsenic in rice. It was found that, when present in significant concentrations in the body of a baby, arsenic can significantly lower the IQ of the child.

Fortunately, there are feasible measures that can easily be taken to reduce the level of arsenic in baby food. To reduce the concentration of this heavy metal, some of the solutions recommended by the Food and Drug Administration include sourcing rice from fields with lower arsenic concentrations in soil, growing it with natural soil additives that lower arsenic uptake by the roots, growing rice strains less susceptible to arsenic uptake, altering irrigation practices, and blending it with lower arsenic grains in multi-grain products.

Finally, the experts of the Healthy Babies Bright Futures have also found ways to minimize heavy metal exposure among babies and suggested alternatives with regard to the food parents feed their children, as follows:

  • rice snacks: replaced with rice-free snacks, which reduces heavy metal exposure by 93%
  • teething biscuits: replaced with frozen bananas or chilled cucumbers, which reduces heavy metal exposure by 91%
  • infant rice cereal: replaced with multi-grain cereal or oatmeal, which reduces heavy metal exposure by 84%
  • fruit juice: replaced with tap water, which reduces heavy metal exposure by 68%
  • carrots and sweet potatoes: replaced with other vegetables, which reduces heavy metal exposure by 73%

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