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Lead Detected in 20% of Baby Food Samples

One of the world’s largest environmental organizations found detectable levels of lead in samples of baby food.

Further investigation shows that food is the major source of lead exposure in two-thirds of toddlers.

lead in baby food

Lead Exposure in Baby Food

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there isn’t any safe level of lead in blood.  Even very low blood lead levels can lower a child’s IQ and cause behavioral problems.

Nevertheless, according to data collected and analyzed by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) more than one million children consume more lead than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) limit.

EDF analyzed 11 years of federal data from the FDA.  They discovered that “food, and baby food in particular, is a meaningful — and surprising — source of lead.”

Percentage of Food Samples Containing Lead

Detectable levels of lead were found in 20 percent of 2,164 baby food samples. The toxic metal was found in fruit juices — like apple and grape.  Lead was also found in root vegetables, like carrots and sweet potatoes.  Cookies such as teething biscuits also had detectable levels of lead.

  • Lead was detected in 20 percent of baby food samples compared to 14 percent for other foods.
  • Eight types of baby foods had detectable lead in more than 40 percent of samples.
  • Baby food versions of apple and grape juices and carrots had more samples with detectable lead than the regular versions.

Noted Responses

Gerber’s response in a recent statement reads as follow:

“We know parents may be concerned about a recent report on lead in foods and want to reassure them that Gerber foods and juices are safe.”

Gerber said that samples of its baby juices and foods “consistently fall well within the available guidance levels and meet our own strict standards.” And samples of Gerber juices were all below the EPA standard for drinking water.

The FDA’s statement concerning lead in foods.

“The FDA is continuing to work with industry to further limit the amount of lead in foods to the greatest extent feasible, especially in foods frequently consumed by children.  The agency is in the process of reevaluating the analytical methods it uses for determining when it should take action with respect to measured levels of lead in particular foods, including those consumed by infants and toddlers.”

The Environmental Defense Fund directed their report at the food industry and FDA in the hopes of getting limits and standards updated.

The Environmental Defense Fund isn’t recommending that parents avoid certain foods or brands for their children.  However, they do advise that parents consult their pediatrician about all means of lead exposure.

About the author: George Zapo is certified in Public Health Promotion and Education (Kent State University). George provides informative articles promoting healthy behavior and lifestyles.

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