More than nine out of ten baby food containers contain toxic products, such as arsenic or lead, in the US. Exposure to heavy metals can have serious consequences for the development of the baby’s brain.
Arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury are some of the substances that were found. According to the American organization Healthy Babies Bright Futures – which brings together associations and doctors – 95% of the baby food sold in the United States contains toxic products and heavy metals.
1 in 4 baby bottles contains four toxic metals
The researchers tested 168 products sold in the US from 61 different producers. They found lead in more than 9 out of 10. In addition, 75% of them contained cadmium, 73% arsenic, and 32% mercury.
Worse still, one in four small bottles contains all four of these toxic products. 40% of the recipes tested had three toxic products. Only 5% – or nine products – showed no traces of heavy metals.
Heavy metals: effects on brain development
And even if the rates found in baby food are low, they can be harmful to the child. The report explains: “Even with traces in food, these contaminants can change the developing brain and reduce a child’s IQ. And their impact increases with every meal or snack a baby eats.
Healthy Babies Bright Futures asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to set healthy limits for traces of chemicals in infant food. The organization also proposes to “implement a proactive program for testing heavy metals in foods for infants and toddlers, along the lines of the Commission’s program for the safety of consumer products for children’s toys”.
One in five kids meals tested had lead content more than ten times higher than the limit recommended by consumer organizations.
The worst food for young children
According to the report, 15 foods that are highly consumed by children under the age of 2 represent 55% of the risk to the baby’s brain. It refers to apple and grape juice, oats, noodles and macaroni, macaroni cheese and cheese snacks.
And at the top of the list are rice dishes (cereals, rice and snacks). This popular baby food is not only rich in inorganic arsenic – the most toxic form of arsenic – but is almost always contaminated with all the four toxic metals.
According to a study by the economic research and toxicology company, Abbot Associates, lead and arsenic in rice-based foods are responsible for one-fifth of the 11 million IQ points lost by children between birth and 24 months.
In order to limit the risks, the organization’s doctors recommend avoiding all snacks and rice dishes. As another recent study, they recommend giving them water instead of fruit juices.
Another tip for newborns: it is possible to give them a frozen banana and cold cucumber sticks instead of pastries.
In addition, they point out that organic or home-made products are not necessarily a good solution. “Heavy metals can occur naturally in soil and water and are found in large quantities in fields contaminated by pesticides, fertilizers, air pollution, and industrial activities.