Thursday, October 17, 2019

95% of Baby Foods STILL Contain Neurotoxic Heavy Metals

95% of baby foods tested still contain one or more extremely toxic chemical, including lead, arsenic, mercury and cadmium.  While this is not the first study to find this (you can read more in a post from 2018  and another one from 2017, 20162012 and 2011 ) this study was particularly large and a reminder that this is still a serious problem parents need to be aware off.  

Here is what this study found

  • The study  tested 168 baby foods spanning 61 brands.  Of these, only 9 did not contain at least one toxic heavy metal 
  • 87% contained more than one toxic heavy metal
  • 4 of 7 infant rice cereals tested in this study contained inorganic arsenic (the toxic form of arsenic) in excess of FDA’s proposed action level of 100 parts per billion (ppb). 
  • 83% of baby foods tested had more lead than the 1-ppb limit endorsed by public health advocates 
  • One of every five foods tested had over 10 times that amount.

Here is what we know:  
Heavy metal exposure is not good for us.  Period.   Exposure, even in small amounts, to heavy metals  at an early age may result in lower IQ and increase the risk of behavior problems,  autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Cumulative risk  (ie being exposed to heavy metals through various foods throughout the day) should also be considered, especially because our children's bodies do not detoxify heavy metals naturally with ease.....  heavy metals can accumulate in the kidneys and other internal organs and stay there for years.  Additionally, Arsenic, lead and cadmium are also human carcinogens.   

The main problem is that currently there are no federal safety limit for toxic heavy metals in most ( 9 out of 10 foods tested) foods.

Here is what we can do about it
The good thing about this type of study is that it allows us to make informed decisions in regards to our children's diets.

We know that the foods that showed highest levels of heavy metals are:
*please note:  "Milk and infant formula appear on the list of 15 foods not because of high metals levels—arsenic and lead concentrations are relatively low in both compared to some other types of baby food, according to HBBF and FDA tests— but because American children drink so much of them." 

  •  rice-based snacks/meals (specifically kids puffs snacks, teething biscuits, rice rusks, and infant rice cereal)
  • carrots 
  • sweet potatoes 
  • fruit juices (apple and mixed blends)
  • rice and vegetables grown in the United States southern states ( Kentucky, Louisiana etc) have higher levels of arsenic (This is due to these state's history of growing cotton crops which used high levels of arsenic which remain in the grown).  If  a rice package vaguely says " Grown in the US"  avoid it. 
Generally, it is best to limit and definitely avoid daily consumption of these foods.   

Unfortunately, organic foods are as likely to contain heavy metals.  In fact,  USDA certified organic does not test for heavy metals.

But, we also know that there are safer alternatives  and these were shown to have 80% lower levels of toxic heavy metals, on average, than the riskier foods.  The best way to avoid heavy metals in foods is to choose:
  • rice-free snacks:  apple sauce, apples, bananas, barley with diced vegetables, beans, cheese, grapes, hard boiled eggs, avocados, peaches and organic yogurt 
  • non-rice cereal (such as multi-grain and oatmeal cereals - but be careful with oatmeal since it has been shown to have higher levels of glyphosate.  Best to buy organic or glyphosate free certified)
  •  alternatives to teething biscuits for soothing for  teething (like a frozen banana or chilled cucumber or a cold washcloth)
  •  eating a balanced diet of a variety of vegetables. 
  • gluten free rice alternatives include:  polenta, quinoa and buckweat

  • if you have a home garden, have your soil tested for heavy metals.   If you find your soil is heavy metal free, consider growing carrots and sweet potatoes.  
  • Don't forget that fish can be another source of heavy metal in your diet.  Pick the right fish. Bigeye tuna, king mackerel, orange roughy, shark, and swordfish are particularly high in methylmercury.  Fish with the lowest levels of mercury include:  wildcaught Salmon, Haddock, Flounder, Herring, Squid, Shrimp and Rainbow Trout

  • For those times when you want to include rice- rice grown in California and India have lower arsenic rates.  Additionally cooking rice in extra ( 6 to 10 parts water ) which helps reduce arsenic in rice) water can help reduce heavy metal levels
After eight  years of reporting about studies that find high levels of heavy metals in baby food and snacks, kids juices and rice products - I feel like it is more important than ever to not limit myself to telling you what you can do at home to avoid heavy metals in food... because there is something equally as important we should all do: tell the FDA that this is ridiculous and push them to set regulations.  According to the report for about 90 % of the baby foods tested, the FDA has not issued guidance or set standards for the maximum safe limit of heavy metals. 

Feel free to contact the FDA directly or quickly sign this petition set up by the authors of the study  to  call on FDA to protect the health of babies by cutting down the levels allowed in rice-based baby foods sold in stores – including puffs baby snacks – to under 25 ppb for arsenic and 8 ppb for lead.

Finally, this new study found yet another toxin in baby food: "HBBF’s tests uncovered one additional neurotoxin in food. We sent new containers of 25 of the foods tested for heavy metals to a separate laboratory, to be analyzed for a neurotoxic pollutant called perchlorate. The lab detected it in 19 of 25 foods tested . All 19 foods with detectable perchlorate also contained heavy metals, and 12 contained all four heavy metals included in our tests. Perchlorate disrupts thyroid functions crucial to brain development and has been linked to IQ loss among children born to mothers with thyroid"

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