Arsenic, Other Toxic Heavy Metals Discovered in US Food: FDA

A new report * from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed the agency found significant levels of toxic heavy metals in the U.S. food supply.  The FDA found lead in 15% of food samples, arsenic in 43% and cadmium in 61%.  

photo of baby eating on a chair

Baby foods were among the most contaminated for arsenic and lead.  The FDA analysis also found that out of 384 baby food samples collected, 51% had detectable levels of total arsenic. The highest levels of arsenic were found in infant cereals and items like teething biscuits and puffed snacks.  Additionally, the FDA found 65% of the samples contained cadmium, 21% contained lead and 3% contained mercury.  Toxic heavy metals endanger infants’ neurological development and long-term brain functioning.

male shopper reads food labels

Overall U.S. Food Supply containing toxic heavy metals

ARSENIC: The foods with the highest arsenic concentrations were seafood, including baked cod, canned tuna and fish sticks.

LEAD: According to the new FDA report, the highest lead concentrations were in baking powder, cocoa powder, baby food sweet potatoes, baby food teething biscuits and sandwich cookies. Products like ranch salad dressing, white wine and sweet potato based baby foods were all found to contain lead.

URANIUM: Uranium was detected in American cheese and chocolate chip cookies. These two snacks are commonly consumed by children.

CADMIUM:  The foods with the highest cadmium concentrations were sunflower seeds and spinach. While cadmium was detected in most vegetable samples, many concentrations were low.

*The FDA’s latest report analyzes data from federal fiscal years 2018 through 2020 for which the agency conducted 87 food collections, resulting in 3,241 samples of 305 foods and beverages.