Group Warns of Lead in Baby Food

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The Environmental Defense Fund, in an analysis of 11 years of federal data, found detectable levels of lead in 20 percent of 2,164 baby food samples.

The group looked at data from more than 12,200 food samples that were analyzed from 2003 to 2013 as part of the Food and Drug Administration's Total Diet Study, which tracks nutrients, pesticides and metals. 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.

"Eight types of baby foods had detectable lead in more than 40 percent of samples". None of the levels of lead found in the baby foods that were tested exceeded the allowable levels.

The samples studied were not identified by brand, and the levels of lead are thought to be relatively low.

Pediatricians who weren't involved in the study noted that lead-based paint and lead-contaminated water are by far the main sources of lead affecting US children. Children face the highest risks from blood lead levels, including behavioral problems and lower IQs as they grow.


There is lead in almost everything, because it is a naturally occurring element, but there was more in baby food than expected. The Center for Disease Control has said that low levels of lead can affect IQ and academic success.

FDA has set guidance levels of 100 parts per billion (ppb) for candy and dried fruit and 50 ppb for fruit juices.

According to the FDA, lead makes its way into food through contaminated soil, but Neltner suspects that processing may also play a role. The nonprofit confirmed that there are detectable levels of lead in some 20 percent of baby foods on the market. The Academy of Pediatrics suggests drinking water in schools contain no more than one ppb.

"I don't know whether we can completely eliminate lead", Neltner said. "FDA and food manufacturers can and must take action to reduce lead levels in food". "Root vegetables are a really healthy choice for babies". Parents should also have their children tested for lead, tell them to wash their hands often - especially before eating and sleeping, clean their toys and feed them healthy snacks such as yogurt, cheese slices and whole grain crackers, World Health Organization advises. But a report published Thursday by the Environmental Defense Fund raises questions about another, surprising possibility: food. "You've got to deal with this issue on multiple fronts".

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