Published: Sun, June 18, 2017
Health Care | By Jeffery Armstrong

Watchdog report finds alarming 20% of baby food tested contains lead

Watchdog report finds alarming 20% of baby food tested contains lead

"The benefits of those nutritious foods far outweigh any risk", she said, especially in the context of where kids are most exposed to lead.

The Environmental Defense Fund analyzed over 2,000 food samples between 2003 and 2013 and found that 1 in 5 baby food samples had at least trace amounts of lead, which can cause cognitive problems in young children. The biggest lead culprits were fruit juices, such as grape and apple; root vegetables, including sweet potatoes and carrots; and treats such as Arrowroot cookies and teething biscuits. Yet the Environmental Protection Agency this year has estimated that more than five percent of USA children (more than a million) get more than the FDA's recommended limit of lead from their diet. "It can have consequences later in life when it comes to issues around attention, behavior", said Dr. Aparna Bole, a pediatrician with UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital. The juices with the highest positive rates were: grape (89 percent of 44 samples), mixed fruit (67 percent of 111 samples), apple (55 percent of 44 samples), and pear (45 percent of 44 samples).

The nonprofit group looked at 11 years of data collected by the Food And Drug Administration as part of the agency's Total Diet Study. Twenty percent of the samples designated by the FDA as baby food had detectable levels of lead in them, compared to 14 percent for regular foods.

At very high levels, lead can kill developing brain cells or be fatal.

The Environmental Defense Fund report notes that more research on the sources of contamination is needed.

The FDA has set limits for lead in the form of maximum parts per billion (ppb) for certain foods. The Academy of Pediatrics suggests drinking water in schools contain no more than one ppb.

Lead is highly toxic and there is no known safe level of it for anyone to eat, drink or breathe in, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. In March of this year, the EDF submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to get that brand-level data from the agency.

In a statement, the FDA said 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". "Avoiding all sources of exposure of lead poisoning is incredibly important ... but the last thing I would want is for a parent to restrict their child's diet or limit their intake of healthy food groups". Bu the FDA says lead can come from our environment, getting absorbed by food crops planted in contaminated soil.

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