Could your baby’s food be contaminated with heavy metals?
It sounds like a scare tactic, but a report released in October by Healthy Babies Bright Futures found that 95 percent of the baby foods tested contained small amount of heavy metals, USA Today reports.
The study examined 168 baby food items from 61 brands, finding that nearly all contained some amount of lead, arsenic, mercury or cadmium.
Metals – including the four mentioned above and others – are known to be found in certain foods, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – because the metals are found in the air, water and soil “and then taken up by plants as they grow,” the USA Today article notes.
“We are taking a systematic approach to reduce the risks posed by these metals especially to vulnerable populations such as infants and children, who are most susceptible to some of the harmful neurological and developmental effects,” the FDA notes on its website.
The risks of heavy metals
While the level of heavy metal in baby food was low, experts worry that the effects of exposure may built up over time and cause health problems, Today.com reports.
Tracey Woodruff, director of the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment at the University of California, San Francisco, told Today.com that “there’s no safe level of lead, there’s no safe level of arsenic, there’s no safe level of mercury and there’s no safe level of cadmium,” but that the risk is lower if you are exposed to a lesser amount.
Although the potential health risks from this level of exposure is currently unknown, experts say moderation and a healthy mix of foods is key for children’s health.
“What we do know is that doing certain things can ameliorate the risk. A diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables and proper nutrients can help protect against some of these adverse health effects, like from lead,” Woodruff said in the article.
How to avoid metals
Parents can also make choices to limit metal exposure in kids’ foods – especially for infants. Consumer Reports offers many tips for helping you reduce your baby’s exposure to metals in foods. Here are a few of its insights.
- Limit rice cereal, since it is not necessary as a “first food” and there are concerns about inorganic arsenic in the products.
- Avoid prepackaged snacks. Despite their convenience, snacks like rice cakes and crackers may contain rice flour, which comes with the same concerns as rice cereal.
- Limit fruit juices, since many of these drinks have been found to contain inorganic arsenic and lead in certain brands of apple and grape juice, according to Consumer Reports.