Lead, arsenic discovered in some of the most popular baby food brands
A study released Wednesday found potentially dangerous contaminants in several baby food products — including arsenic in 80 percent of infant formulas.
The Clean Label Project — which describes itself as a "nonprofit focused on health and transparency in consumer product labeling " — tested 530 baby foods products. It said it was addressing parents' concerns that they didn't know which products were safe and healthy — or what to make of ambitious labels for "natural, organic, pure and non-GMO" foods.
It found than nearly one third of the products exceeded at least one state or federal regulatory limit for safety. Thirty-six percent of baby food samples had detectable levels of lead. And some products labeled "certified organic" had higher amounts of mercury and lead than typical baby foods.
That includes many major brands — including Gerber and Enfamil. Those scored two out of five in the project's rating system for toxic metals.
A majority — 60 percent — of the products claiming to be BPA free weren't, according to the study.
Many of those materials are connected to developmental or health issues in young children. The stat perhaps most likely to draw attention — 80 percent of infant formulas showed levels of arsenic.
Last year, a study published in JAMA Pediatrics found babies who at rice cereals were more likely to show higher conentrations of arsenic in their urine. It also found that about 80 percent of babies had eaten rice cereal sometime in their first year.
Also last year, the FDA proposed a limit of 100 parts per billion (ppb) for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal.
“Our actions are driven by our duty to protect the public health and our careful analysis of the data and the emerging science,” Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition said at the time. “The proposed limit is a prudent and achievable step to reduce exposure to arsenic among infants.”
It said it expected food manufacturers to be able to keep under that limit.
The Clean Label Project said it wanted the new report to be "a wakeup call for brands and parents."
"(The) time has come for brands to step up and take ownership for what is in their products — both food and bad," it said.
But the amount of any chemical's presence in food is a significant, factor
"It is important for consumers to understand that some contaminants, such as heavy metals like lead or arsenic, are in the environment and cannot simply be removed from food," USA Today quoted Peter Cassell, a FDA spokesperson, saying.
That report also notes the EPA has linked lead — also identified in several foods — "to lower IQs, slowed growth, behavioral problems, hearing issues and anemia."
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