A new study shows that a majority of baby foods, including 80% of formulas tested positive for arsenic and other chemicals. Veuer’s Natasha Abellard has the story.
Correction and Clarifications: This story has been updated to reflect how the Clean Label Project is funded.
Previously there was an alarming study released regarding the use of baby food products which was proven positive containing arsenic, one of this is the infant formulas which consists of 80% and is not the only dangerous contaminant.
The Clean Label Project, a nonprofit advocating for transparent labeling, tested baby food, infant formulas, toddler drinks and snacks purchased within the past 5 months. The group, which did not publish findings in a peer-reviewed journal, looked at top-selling formulas and baby food using Nielsen data, and also included emerging national brands. After about 530 baby food products were tested, researchers found 65% of products tested positive for arsenic, 36% for lead, 58% for cadmium and 10% for acrylamide. All of these chemicals pose potential dangers to developing infants.
According to Jennifer Lowry, a pediatrician and toxicologist at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., and was not involved with the said research study, states that the said chemicals can greatly affect the fine and motor skills and even the cognition of a growing infant.
Mainstream brands including Gerber, Enfamil, Plum Organics and Sprout were among the worst offenders — scoring two out of five in the Clean Label Project’s report card for toxic metals. Plus, 60% of products claiming to be “BPA free” tested positive for the industrial chemical bisphenol A. The quantities of contaminates range, but some products tested positive for up to 600 parts of arsenic per billion. That’s far more than just trace amounts.
Arsenic was the most common contaminate spotted in the Clean Label Project study. Nearly 80% of infant formula samples tested positive for arsenic. The toxin is associated with developmental defects, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity, diabetes and even cancer, according to the World Health Organization.
In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed a limit of 100 parts per billion of arsenic in infant rice cereal, but isn’t enforcing that limit. Rice often absorbs arsenic from contaminated soil as it grows in the environment.
Peter Cassell, a FDA spokesperson states that, “It is very crucial for consumers to understand that some contaminants, such as heavy metals either lead or arsenic are found in the environment and cannot be simply removed from food”.
Lead, also found in food tested by the Clean Label Project, has been found in baby food before. Just a few months ago, the Environmental Defense Fund found 20% of 2,164 baby food samples tested contained lead. No amount of lead is safe.
Low levels of lead in children’s blood circulation have been resulted to lower IQ level, slowed or stunted growth, behavioral problems, hearing issues and even anemia, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Clean Label Project posted a list of products it tested, along with a star-rating grade informed by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, on its website. Bowen said she hopes the data helps parents become better advocates for their children’s health, and creates change in the baby food business.
The Clean Label Project is supported by receiving funding from grants, donations and its certification program.
“The baby industry needs to do a better job in protecting America’s most vulnerable population,” Bowen said.
Gerber, Mead Johnson (Enfamil), Plum Organics and Sprout all released statements following the study assuring customers their products adhere to strict safety standards. Gerber said its foods “meet or exceed U.S. government standards for quality and safety.” even Mead Johnson said it specifically monitors the presence of many materials, including arsenic, cadmium, lead, BPA and acrylamide to ensure “safety and high quality.” Plum, who also stressed products are “completely safe,” said over the past year, it’s created “new, more robust guidelines for contaminants in our products” and is in the process of implementing those rules. Sprout said it is already “fully compliant with the new FDA food labeling requirements that don’t take effect until 2020.”
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