Consumer Alert: Study finds heavy metals in baby food. Here’s what you can do about it

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – This consumer alert is all about what you’re feeding your baby. A new study by Consumer Reports shows there is cause for concern. It found high levels of heavy metals of baby foods made of rice and sweet potatoes. Consumer Reports first tested heavy metals in baby food in 2018.

It found that 33 of 50 baby foods tested had concerning levels of lead, arsenic, cadmium or mercury.  After the report, congress and consumer groups pressured baby food manufacturers to lower the levels of heavy metals. So Consumer Reports recently retested seven foods that had highest levels in 2018,  And they found that the levels in one hadn’t changed and in three the levels of heavy metals had actually increased.

“A number of the heavy metals have been associated with causing problems with cognizance in babies, behavior issues, causing problems with ADHD, problems with reading and learning, and so if they are exposed to these metals early in life, there is the potential that it can cause long term effects throughout their life,” said James Rogers, Consumer Reports’ director of research and testing.

One way that heavy metals end up in baby food is when contaminated run-off from industry or pesticides end up in soil, resulting in heavy metals in produce. Sometimes heavy metals are introduced into the food during the manufacturing process. So Consumer Reports is encouraging manufacturers to test both their raw materials and their finished products.

“If you’re buying ingredients that coming into the factory that have high heavy metals, then you need to find a different supplier or that supplier that you are using has to find a way to supply you with ingredients that do not have as much heavy metals,” said Rogers.

And he says it can be done, after all three of seven products tested had reduced their levels of heavy metals. Consumer Reports encourages parents not to panic. You can limit your child’s exposure to heavy metals by educating yourself about which foods are most likely to have them such as sweet potatoes, rice-based products, puffs and snack foods. Click here for Consumer Reports recommendations for your child based on heavy metal content.