November 14, 2019

Senator Schumer Concerned About Heavy Metals in Baby Food

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is urging the FDA to investigate a new report that states there are toxic heavy metals in baby foods. The government does not have regulation that would make industry to address this problem. That report, by Healthy Baby Food.org,  states that these metals, including arsenic, lead, mercury, and cadmium, are found in a wide variety of baby foods.

Senator Schumer Concerned About Heavy Metals in Baby Food

According to the report, 95% of baby foods tested were contaminated by at least one of the heavy metals. One in four baby foods teated contains all four of the heavy metals. Only nine of 168 baby foods teated did not have any traces of these toxins.

The products with the highest levels of contamination include fruit juices and rice-based products. Alarmingly, four of the seven infant rice cereals that were tested contain inorganic arsenic, which is very toxic. The problem of arsenic in rice has been known for some time, and agencies have been urging the FDA to do something about this issue for years.

Among the heavy metals, lead was found in 94% of the foods. Cadmium and arsenic were in 75% of the tested foods, and mercury was in about 33% of the tested foods. These toxins can permanently damage babies’ brains, lower IQ, and affect behavior.  Arsenic can cause cancers. Lead has no safe level of exposure. Cadmium is linked to cancer and kidney, bone, and heart damage. Mercury increases the risk of heart disease and  reduces IQ.

Senator Schumer said in a statement, “When it comes to the first foods we feed our children, we rightfully expect those foods to be undeniably safe, nutritious, and appropriately regulated. We do not expect to learn that those first foods might come with—even a chance—of lasting consequence that could sabotage the development of newborns. Simply put, when baby food ingredients across of a variety of brands are called into question, it is the job and charge of the FDA to be the cop on the beat making sure serious questions are answered and appropriate guidelines enforced. Right now, that’s not entirely the case, and it’s a fact pattern that needs to change, because parents are demanding answers. ”

The FDA did establish a Toxic Elements Working Group in 2017 to modernize safety standards for these metals, but no new standards have been introduced. For instance, the FDA did not finalize arsenic guidelines for infant rice cereal and apple juice by the end of 2018.

The Senator wants the FDA to establish and finalize health-protective standards for heavy metals, implement a proactive testing program for these toxins, and to immediately establish a health-based limit for arsenic in infant foods. He also wants the FDA to investigate this report and publicly comment on the findings.

 

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