Report: Popular Baby Food Brands Contain High Levels of Arsenic, Other Contaminants
A sweeping report from Consumer Reports has found products from seven major baby food brands containing higher-than-normal levels of inorganic arsenic and other contaminants.
The experts tested samples of 50 products sold across the country for cadmium, lead, mercury, and inorganic arsenic (which is different than the arsenic naturally occurring in some foods).
Affected products include those made by Gerber, Plum Organics, Sprout, Baby Mum-Mum, Beech-Nut, Ella's Kitchen, and Happy Baby. The searh was not limited to jarred puree, but included cereals, bottled entreés, packaged fruits and vegetables, cookies, crackers, snack bars, wafers, and biscuits. You can see a full list of the products in question by clicking here.
Sixty-eight percent of the products tested contained "worrisome" amounts of at least one of the metallic agents, according to Consumer Reports. 15 of the products—including Gerber's chicken and rice, as well as Gerber's organic oatmeal cereal and even the brand's carrot, pear and blackberry pureé—could pose a health risk to children eating only one serving of the item per day on a regular basis.
More overarching health issues can occur if babies as well as young children consume elevated amounts of metals: Dr. James Dickerson, Consumer Reports' chief scientific officer, says that risk of developing behavior problems, autism, ADHD, and a lower IQ are all factors of increased consumption.
If your child has eaten one of the products highlighted in the report, it won't necessarily doom them to health issues, Dickerson said, but parents should be aware of increased risk for those who regularly purchase the products in question.
Inorganic arsenic, the kind found in this particular test, can come from anywhere—the air inside the production facility, the equipment used itself, or within the soil used to grow the crops used in production.
Looking for the best options for your child? Read on:
Products labeled as "organic" were just as likely to contain unhealthy amounts of heavy metals as conventional meals, the report said. While the best solution may be to make your own baby foods at home, it's not always possible to find the time to do this. Researchers at Consumer Reports recommend that parents try to avoid products on the list designated as "high risk."
If you are worried about what is in your child's food, and are able to prepare food at home, here are some healthy, easy-to-make recipes for babies between 4 and 12 months as well as toddlers up to 2 years old. If you're looking to introduce a wider selection of food into your child's daily routine, we also have transitional recipes for toddlers between 12 and 18 months old.
Our sister brand, MyRecipes, recently published a guide for new parents who are looking to feed their babies with homemade recipes for the first time. Purchase non-toxic plastic containers to store your pureés in, as this can be another source of concern.