TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Recent research released by a U.S. nonprofit organization indicates that 95 percent of baby food in the U.S. market is contaminated with lead and other metals.
The study by Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF) found the presence of heavy metals in 95 percent of the 168 baby foods, from 61 brands that were tested. HBBF said that a wider variety of brands were tested for this study compared with previous studies.
Brands tested included Gerber, Up&Up, Enfamil, and Plum Organics. The foods tested included snacks, teething foods, cereal, drinks, fruits and vegetables.
The study found the baby foods were contaminated with lead, arsenic, mercury or cadmium. Lead was most commonly found, in 94 percent of the baby foods tested, followed by cadmium, arsenic, and mercury, which were present in, respectively, 75 percent, 73 percent, and 32 percent of the products.
The research also found that one in four baby foods tested contained all four metals. Accounting for the health risks from consuming contaminated baby foods, the report said, “Instead of overt poisoning, the low, daily exposures children face from heavy metals in food and other sources create subclinical decrements in brain function with impacts on a global scale.”
HBBF said in a news release that many international studies have confirmed that heavy metals such as arsenic and lead can impair a baby's brain, nervous system, and development of intelligence, increase the risks of cancer, and even cause permanent intellectual disability.
In response to the report, US Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s top Democrat, said Sunday the FDA must take more action to regulate the baby food industry. He added that federal regulators should examine the study and release a public statement of their findings, AP reported.
HBBF recommended that: “Parents shopping for baby food choose five types of safer items, all readily available, over more contaminated foods," adding,“The safer choices contain 80 percent less arsenic, lead and other toxic heavy metals, on average, than the riskier picks.”
The nonprofit recommends parents shop for safe alternatives to five foods: rice-free snacks over puff snacks (rice), other soothing foods for teething such as frozen banana or chilled cucumber rather than teething biscuits and rice rusks, plus tap water over fruit juice, and “a variety of fruits and veggies that includes carrots, sweet potatoes, and other choices” over carrots and sweet potatoes.