The investigation, which was published this week by Healthy Babies, tested 168 baby foods from major U.S. manufacturers and found that 95 percent contained lead, 75 percent contained cadmium, 73 percent contained arsenic, and 32 percent contained mercury. Additionally, 25 percent of baby foods contained all four of the metals.
Experts agree that no amount of lead in baby food is safe (obviously) but the investigation painted a grim picture of the state of baby food in America, as 20 percent of the baby food tested were found to contain over 10 times the 1-ppb limit of lead that has been endorsed by public health advocates.
The results of the investigation are similar to a study conducted by the FDA, which found that 33 of 39 baby foods they tested contained one or more toxic metal.
This is all pretty scary stuff that makes it clear that major baby food companies need to massively overhaul their standards to make their products safe. But until then, what can parents do to keep their kids away from toxic-infused meals? There are a few tips recommended by experts. Most of them require cooking, food-sourcing, and other time-intense things that many parents — especially low-incomes or with dual incomes — don’t have time to implement.
Rice cereal has been discovered to be the top source of arsenic in baby food and so Healthy Babies suggests cereal that is low in arsenic, like oatmeal or multi-grain cereal, as well as making sure packaged snacks are rice-free. If you are going to cook rice for your toddler, be sure it is being cooked in extra water that is being poured off before eating — this helps leach most of the arsenic out of the rice since this heavy metal is water-soluble.
Teething biscuits, which are usually made with rice, were also found to contain lead, arsenic, and cadmium and experts have suggested safer alternatives, such as a frozen banana, chilled cucumber, or even a washcloth, so long as it’s wet and clean.
Juice has long been targeted as a problem drink by experts because of its high sugar and low nutrients. Apple juice made from Chinese apple has been shown to contain lead and arsenic, adding to the issues surrounding juice. Give your kids whole fruit and water instead.