Toxic metals have been banned in pesticides (and many other products that come into contact with humans) but that doesn’t mean we can completely avoid them. Actually, many of these now-banned chemicals still linger in our water and soil and that means they are still present in many of the foods we eat.
Unfortunately, a new study has identified that these chemicals can be found at alarming levels in an even more alarming proportion of baby foods. Arsenic, lead, mercury, and cadmium were all found in nearly all of the 168 baby food products made by US manufacturers tested in the study.
According to a new report from researchers at the Healthy Babies Bright Futures Foundation: “The chemicals found in baby food—arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury—are neurotoxins that can permanently alter the developing brain, erode IQ, and affect behavior. These four harmful metals are found in all food—not just baby food…Crops absorb them from soil and water, and they are even found in organic food. Their presence in baby food raises unique concern, because babies are more sensitive to the toxic impacts.”
HBBF national director and lead report author Charlotte Brody comments that the FDA needs to do more to address this issue because 90 percent of the foods involved in the study have no established standard for maximum safe limit of heavy metals.
As a matter of fact, lead was found in 95 percent of all the baby food products tested. Obviously, that was the most prevalent heavy metal; but the foods made with rice—and brown rice in particular—were found to be the most contaminated with arsenic. In addition to this, though, the researchers recommend cutting back on fruit juices as well as carrots and sweet potatoes, because root crops more readily absorb heavy metals from the soil.
In light of this, pediatrician Tanya Altmann advises that the best first foods to introduce to an infant ready for solid food include raw and lightly processed foods like avocado, pureed veggies, oatmeal, peanut butter, and salmon. She attests, “They all provide important nutrients that babies need, help develop their taste buds to prefer healthy food and may decrease food allergies.”