U.S. congressional investigators found “dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals” in certain commercial baby foods* that could cause neurological damage**. The toxic heavy metals included arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury–all of which are scientifically known to present a high risk to infants and children. In what was referred to by one representative as “shocking”, the data provided by some baby food manufacturers reportedly contain hundreds of parts per billion of these dangerous metals***. The U.S. House Oversight Committee examined products made by Nurture Inc, Hain Celestial Group Inc, Beech-Nut Nutrition and Gerber, a unit of Nestle, it said, adding that it was “greatly concerned” that Walmart Inc. (which sells Parent’s Choice baby food), Campbell Soup Company (which sells the Plum Organics brand of baby products), and Sprout Organic Foods refused to cooperate with the investigation.
The report said internal company standards “permit dangerously high levels of toxic heavy metals, and documents revealed that the manufacturers have often sold foods that exceeded those levels.”
The report said the FDA took no new action in response. “To this day, baby foods containing toxic heavy metals bear no label or warning to parents. Manufacturers are free to test only ingredients, or, for the vast majority of baby foods, to conduct no testing at all.”
*Whether the baby food was organic or not did not matter– levels of toxic metals were still high.
**Neurological impacts range from behavioral problems, to aggression, to IQ loss, as well as a variety of cognitive and behavioral deficits that can persist throughout life.
***Baby food ingredients in certain products contained up to 91 times the inorganic arsenic level, up to 177 times the lead level, up to 69 times the cadmium level, and up to five times the mercury level allowed in bottled water, yet the companies still approved those products for sale.
The report urged U.S. regulators to set maximum levels of toxic heavy metals permitted in baby foods and require manufacturers to test finished products for heavy metals, not just ingredients, while baby food companies said they were working to reducing levels of metals that occur naturally in food products.
UPDATE MARCH 6, 2021:
The Food and Drug Administration is increasing the number of inspections it does for baby food. It comes after a congressional report found dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals in some baby food. The FDA says while they work to set more concrete standards for heavy metals in baby food, manufacturers have a responsibility to reduce chemicals in their products.
Make your own baby food using fresh, whole, organic ingredients. There are many free recipes online for baby foods. Here are a few sources to get you started: