US – Consumer Reports (CR) has conducted new tests on baby foods and found that while levels of lead, arsenic, and cadmium appear to be decreasing, the overall risk to children’s health has not changed significantly over the past five years.

Despite efforts to improve the safety of baby food products and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Closer to Zero initiative to reduce toxic heavy metals, the analysis reveals that the overall risk remains a concern.

In 2018, CR identified potential health risks associated with 33 out of 50 baby foods due to combined exposures to lead, arsenic, and cadmium.

In the present analysis, CR retested seven baby foods that previously contained concerning levels of heavy metals. While three of the products showed a decline in heavy metal levels, three others demonstrated increased levels of certain heavy metals. One product showed minimal change.

CR tested 14 baby food products, encompassing a variety of fruits, vegetables, meals, and snacks such as bars, puffs, and teething wafers. At least three samples of each product were analyzed to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Continued need for enhanced safety measures

CR reached out to the baby food manufacturers involved in the testing. Beechnut, Gerber, and Earth’s Best stated that they conduct testing for heavy metals in both the raw ingredients and final products.

Happy Baby confirmed testing their final products but did not address testing of raw ingredients. Hot Kid, owned by Want-Want and a manufacturer of Baby Mum-Mum products, did not provide a response.

CR’s findings indicate that there is still considerable room for improvement in baby food safety regarding the presence of toxic heavy metals.

While reductions in certain heavy metals were observed in some products, these improvements were offset by increased levels in others, resulting in minimal overall change in the recommended consumption of baby foods.

Notably, rice, sweet potatoes, and snack foods remained a concern due to their significant levels of heavy metals.

The findings highlight the ongoing need for concerted efforts to address heavy metal levels in baby foods.

CR’s analysis serves as a call for continued industry-wide improvements to ensure the safety and well-being of infants and young children. Monitoring and reducing the presence of heavy metals in baby foods remain crucial for promoting healthier options and safeguarding children’s health.

The FDA’s goal is to reduce dietary exposure to contaminants to as low as possible while maintaining access to nutritious foods.

According to the agency, its work to date has resulted in significant progress in reducing exposure to environmental contaminants from foods, and Closer to Zero builds on this progress.

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