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article imageHigh levels of toxic heavy metals found in some baby foods

By Karen Graham     Feb 4, 2021 in Health
U.S. congressional investigators found “dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals” in certain baby foods that could cause neurological damage, a House Oversight subcommittee said in a report released on Thursday.
This latest report examined baby foods made by Nurture Inc, Hain Celestial Group Inc, Beech-Nut Nutrition, and Gerber. The report also noted that Walmart Inc, Campbell Soup Co, and Sprout Organic Foods refused to cooperate with the investigation.
The report states that "Internal company standards permit dangerously high levels of toxic heavy metals, and documents revealed that the manufacturers have often sold foods that exceeded those levels."
The report also blamed the Trump administration for taking no action on the heavy metals problem, saying it “ignored a secret industry presentation to federal regulators revealing increased risks of toxic heavy metals in baby foods.”
This statement is in reference to a study released in 2019 that was commissioned by Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF). In the study, 168 baby foods were tested for the presence of toxic heavy metals.
Baby food section at a market
Baby food section at a market
Executioner (CC0 1.0)
The study found 95 percent of the food tested contained lead, arsenic, mercury, or cadmium. It found one in four baby foods that were tested contained all four metals. Only nine of the 168 baby foods tested were not found to contain traces of any of the four metals.
On October 20, 2019, Senator Chuck Schumer called on the Food and Drug Administration FDA to examine the report.
Don't blame the Trump administration for the FDA's failure
But to blame the Trump administration is wrong. The discovery of arsenic, lead, cadmium, mercury, and pesticides in baby foods, including infant formula is not a new problem. It has been festering for a number of years and has become worse in the past few years.
For example, in 2016, a nonprofit watchdog organization compiled a list of baby and toddler foods that are contaminated by harmful ingredients. Eighty-one percent of the 628 tested products failed to meet the standards.
Baby foods were tested for toxic and heavy metals – e.g., arsenic, lead, cadmium – pesticides, bisphenol A (BPA), antibiotics, food coloring and flavors, and other unwanted substances that do not appear on ingredient labels.
In 2017, the Environmental Defense Fund released an analysis of 11 years of federal data that showed detectable levels of lead in 20 percent of 2,164 baby food samples.
And in 2018, Consumer Reports, an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to ensure the safety of consumer products sold in the U.S., sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration, urging the agency to take steps to protect the public from potentially harmful contaminants in the food supply.
Why are toxic heavy metals an important issue?
The simple answer is that babies and children are more vulnerable to severe and neurotoxic damage by toxic heavy metals than adults. With the exception of Mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium are also known or probable human carcinogens.
What is worse, though, is that the four metals are neurotoxic, posing serious threats to healthy childhood brain development. "Exposure to these toxic heavy metals affects babies’ brain development and nervous system, it affects their behavior, permanently decreases their IQ and, if you want to boil it down to dollars, their lifetime earnings potential,” Tom Neltner, chemicals policy director for the Environmental Defense Fund, told the Washington Post.
The bottom line? The committee's report accuses the manufacturers of "knowingly" selling "tainted baby food to unsuspecting parents, in spite of internal company test results showing high levels of toxic heavy metal, and without any warning labels whatsoever,” Chairman Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) said in a press release.
More about baby foods, Heavy metals, Fda, House Oversight subcommittee, brain development
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