Baby food contains way too many heavy metals

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Over the past two decades, the number of children diagnosed with neurological disorders, including autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), has increased at an alarming rate. Although uncontrollable factors like genetics can cause these disorders, they are also linked to the child’s physical environment, including exposure to heavy metals like lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic.

In 2021, Congress released two reports critical of how the nation’s major baby food manufacturers are failing to control the dangerous levels of heavy metals in their baby food products; pollution also results in higher exposure. It is becoming very clear that we are not fully protecting our babies.

How do heavy metals get into baby food?

Heavy metals are found naturally in the earth’s crust, but increasing air and water pollution around the world are also releasing them into the soil and water used for planting crops.

For example, countless new mothers have relied on infant rice cereal to introduce solid foods into their child’s diet. However, rice – even more than other grains – tends to easily absorb heavy metals, especially arsenicfrom groundwater.

Baby food manufacturers also increase heavy metal levels by adding other ingredients like enzymes and vitamin-mineral blends, which are likely already contaminated with toxins before they are mixed into the food.

Because some areas of the world have more heavy metals in the soil than others, location may be another factor. Foods grown in these regions will have higher levels of the metal.

Heavy metal exposure affects brain development in children

Exposure to heavy metals in food can give a child a neurological problems.

Certain metals like zinc and iron are needed by everyone to build strong cells and contribute to healthy neurotransmitter production, regardless of age. However, the dangerous levels of these metals are of concern.

Besides the increased risk of autism and ADHD, exposure to large amounts of heavy metals can lead to impaired learning and memory as well as impaired movement. They impair crucial neurodevelopmental processes and can permanently damage cognitive function.

The rapid development of babies’ brains makes them particularly vulnerable to the presence of heavy metals.

Congress weighs

In February 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy released his first report on the subject, Baby food is contaminated with dangerous levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury.

Congress requested data from seven major baby food brands: Beech-Nut, Gerber, Happy Happy Baby, Earth’s Best Organic, Plum Organics, Walmart’s Parent’s Choice and Sprout Organic Food. They received information from only four of them; Plum, Walmart and Sprout refused to cooperate.

Lawmakers have asked companies to phase out ingredients known to contain high levels of toxins, such as rice and certain vitamin premixes, and said internal brand standards allow “dangerously high levels” of heavy metals in baby food.

The report also urged the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to set mandatory maximum permitted levels for metals in baby foods and to require companies to list the levels of each metal on food labels.

Unfortunately, the news did not improve after Congress released follow-up report in September 2021. Companies continued to sell contaminated products, even slightly more than in the first report. And the three companies that did not cooperate the first time returned the requested information, which revealed that they were not operating to the necessary standards.

For its part, after receiving criticism from the subcommittee in the first report, the FDA agreed to begin work on a new program called the “Closer to Zero Action Plan,” which includes a timeline for setting limits for the level of toxic metals in baby food.

However, in its second report, the subcommittee told the agency that its timeline was too far “into the future”. There is no doubt that much more work needs to be done to reduce these unnecessary dangers to our children.


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