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‘Troublesome’ Amount of Heavy Metals Have Been Found in Popular Baby Food

Even popular brands like Earth's Best and Gerber have been found to have heavy metals in their products.

Flickr Katie Mollon

A new investigation from Consumer Reports has found what they’re calling a ”troublesome” amount of heavy metals in food that is normally eaten by toddlers and babies. To come to this conclusion they took three samples of 50 packaged foods, estimated how often a child may consume those foods, and then cross-referenced those findings with medical data about safe levels of heavy metal consumption.

According to James Dickerson, Consumer Reports‘ chief scientific officer, two-thirds of the tested foods didn’t just have heavy metals in them but had a very large trace of heavy metals. These sorts of metals typically end up in food as a result of water or soil pollution, the use of pesticides, runoff from leaded gasoline, and have been known to cause cancer and have harmful developmental effects that pose a much greater risk to kids under four-years-old.

“What we are concerned about is if you feed your child this [food with high levels of heavy metals], over the lifetime of their development, particularly during birth to four, then you will have an increased risk of having cancer, for example,” Dickerson says.

The investigation notes that the effects of heavy metal ingestion are not short term. It won’t make a child sick today, but can always create greater risk later down the line. Still, as Dickerson explains, “These heavy metals shouldn’t be in food, period.”

The study concluded that 15 of the 50 products tested could pose ”potential health risks,” even if a child consumed just one serving a day. Products with rice and sweet potatoes are also more likely to contain an unsafe amount of heavy metals. Interestingly, organic and nonorganic foods are equally likely to contain these metals. This is a bit more disconcerting as the FDA is still coming to a verdict on how much heavy metal contamination is too much. Still, for concerned parents, Dickerson recommends a balance.  

“If you happen to be giving them a lot of rice-based products, mix in oats or wheat. The idea is balance, not overemphasizing any one particular grain or food,” he said.

Read a list of the 15 dangerous foods from the  Consumer Reports investigation below.

  • Earth’s Best Organic Chicken & Brown Rice
  • Earth’s Best Turkey, Red Beans, and Brown Rice
  • Gerber Chicken &Rice
  • Gerber Turkey & Rice
  • Sprout Organic Baby Food Garden Vegetables Brown Rice with Turkey
  • Gerber Lil’ Meals White Turkey Stew with Rice & Vegetables
  • Gerber Carrot, Pear & Blackberry
  • Gerber Carrots Peas & Corn with Lil’ Bits
  • Plum Organics Just Sweet Potato Organic Baby Food
  • Beech-Nut Classics Sweet Potatoes
  • Earth’s Best Organic Sweet Potatoes, 1st Stage
  • Earth’s Best Organic Whole Grain Rice Cereal
  • Earth’s Best Organic Sunny Days Snack Bars, Strawberry
  • Happy Baby Organics Superfood Puffs, Apple & Broccoli
  • Happy Baby Organics Superfood Puffs, Purple Carrot & Blueberry