Toxic Metals Found in Baby Foods
February 4, 2021 – A congressional panel said that major brands of commercial baby food regularly contain high levels of toxic heavy metals such as mercury and arsenic.
The House Oversight Committee panel says the FDA is not doing enough to regulate products, leaving babies at risk for serious developmental and neurological problems.
Consumer reports, which produced its own report in 2018 on the dangers of toxic metals in baby food, called the subcommittee’s report “disturbing.”
“The report results are concerning because exposure to even small amounts of these heavy metals at an early age can increase the risk of significant health problems over time,” Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports, said in a statement. “It is particularly troubling that some companies are experiencing the high levels of heavy metal contamination and are still selling the products.
The committee asked several major brands to voluntarily submit internal test data for levels of mercury, arsenic, cadmium and lead. Four responded to the demand: Gerber, Beech-Nut, Nurture (which makes Happy Baby products) and Hain Celestial Group, which makes Earth’s Best Organic. Several others refused, including Campbell Soup, Walmart and Sprout Foods.
“Nurture, Beech-Nut, Hain and Gerber cooperated with the subcommittee’s investigation, despite revealing their reckless disregard for the health of babies,” the report said.
“Beech-Nut set heavy metal testing standards 35 years ago, and we continuously review and strengthen them whenever possible,” said Jason Jacobs, vice president of food safety, quality and innovation. The Washington Post. “We look forward to working with the FDA, in partnership with the Baby Food Council, on scientific standards that food suppliers can implement in our industry.”
The subcommittee wondered why Campbell, Walmart and Sprout refused to cooperate.
“The subcommittee is very concerned that these companies may mask the presence of even higher levels of toxic heavy metals in their baby food products,” the report said.
The panel also criticized the FDA for not regulating these products.
“Despite the well-known risks of harm to babies from toxic heavy metals, the FDA has not taken adequate steps to reduce their presence in baby food,” the report said. “The FDA has not issued thresholds for the vast majority of toxic heavy metals in baby food and does not require warning labels on baby food products.”
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