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Congressional Investigation Reveals Heavy Metal Contamination in Baby Foods

02/08/2021

According to a February 4th Congressional Report from the Sub-Committee on Economic and Consumer Policy of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, baby foods marketed in the U.S. contain unacceptable levels of arsenic and in some cases contamination with lead, mercury and cadmium.  The report was requested in November 2019 and followed a review of data obtained by the Food and Drug Administration relating to heavy metal contamination of baby foods. 

 

During November 2019, the Sub-committee on Economic and Consumer Policy requested documentation and assay data from seven manufacturers.  The companies included Beech-Nut Nutrition Company, Hain Celestial Group, Gerber, Walmart Inc, Sprout Foods Inc, Campbell Soup Company and Nurture Inc.  Only Nurture, Beech-Nut, Hain and Gerber cooperated with the Sub-committee with the remainder refusing to comply with the investigation.  The report documented high levels of arsenic in company-assayed samples, ranging from 60 ppb to 200 ppb.  Lead was present at levels over 10 ppb in 20 percent of baby food samples tested with one as high as 641 ppb. A specific company detected 5 ppb cadmium in 65 percent of samples assayed and the same company marketed baby foods containing up to 10 ppb mercury.

 

It was evident that from the data reviewed, that manufacturers ignored high levels of heavy metals in raw materials used to prepare baby food.  Arsenic contamination of rice and cadmium contamination of carrots were obvious contributors to heavy metal contamination of the final products.

 

The recommendations in the Report included:-

  • FDA should develop standards specifying maximum levels of organic arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury in baby foods
  • Mandatory testing of both ingredients and finished products
  • Compulsory reporting of levels of heavy metals to FDA

 

Encouraging parental vigilance regarding heavy metal contamination of baby foods based on mandatory testing and labeling.

 

The presence of heavy metal contamination of food is unacceptable. That arsenic, cadmium and mercury are knowingly present in baby food is criminal and the fact that household brands are involved speaks volumes for the mendacity and wanton disregard for the health of our Nation. We can and must do better.