Many brands of baby formula and baby food sold in the U.S. are contaminated with arsenic, lead and other dangerous chemicals that can affect fine motor skills and cognition in developing infants according to a study conducted by the nonprofit advocacy group Clear Label Project.
The organization tested about 530 different baby foods, infant formulas, toddler drinks and snacks focusing on top-selling and emerging brands using Nielsen data, and found that 65 percent of products tested positive for arsenic, 36 percent for lead, 58 percent for cadmium and 10 percent for acrylamide – chemicals that pose risks to young children, said Jennifer Lowry, a pediatrician and toxicologist at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas.
A whopping 80 percent of the infant formulas tested were found to contain arsenic, a toxin that can cause developmental defects, heart disease, neurotoxicity, diabetes and even cancer, according to the World Health Organization. Rice-based baby food like snack puffs had some of the highest levels of arsenic.
Among the products that contained the most toxic metals were mainstream brands including Gerber, Enfamil, Plum Organics and Sprout. The nonprofit also found that 60 percent of the products that claimed to be “BPA free,” tested positive for bisphenol A, an industrial chemical.
In some cases, testing revealed trace amounts of the toxic metals. But some products contained as much as 600 parts of arsenic per billion – a sizable enough amount to raise concerns.
Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed limiting the amount of arsenic in infant rice cereal to 100 parts per billion. However, the agency has yet to enforce that limit.
“It is important for consumers to understand that some contaminants, such as heavy metals like lead or arsenic, are in the environment and cannot simply be removed from food,” said Peter Cassell, an FDA spokesman.
Source: USA Today