Consumer Reports: ‘Concerning’ levels of heavy metals found in some baby foods

An analysis of 50 nationally distributed packaged foods made for babies and toddlers had “troubling findings” when it comes to heavy metals, according to Consumer Reports. 

Consumer Reports’ food safety team reports that 68 percent of the products had “worrisome” levels of at least one heavy metal, and 15 products would pose a “potential health risks” if eaten daily.

According to the findings, snacks and products that contain rice and/or sweet potatoes were particularly likely to have high levels of heavy metals. And organic foods were as likely to contain heavy metals as conventional foods.

So what does that mean?

Dr. James Dickerson, chief scientific officer at Consumer Reports, said parents don’t need to panic. The foods don’t guarantee a child will develop health problems, but may simply increase the risk.

Whether problems develop depend on factors like genetics and exposure to other heavy metals.

Consumer Reports says based on their test results, the following baby foods had “concerning levels of lead:”

  • Beech-Nut Classics Sweet Potatoes
  • Earth’s Best Organic Sweet Potatoes
  • Gerber Turkey & Rice

They recommend children not have more than one daily serving of the following:

  • Earth’s Best Organic Chicken & Brown Rice and Turkey, Red Beans & Brown Rice
  • Gerber Chicken & Rice and 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 and 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

Consumer Reports says that while FDA needs to set regulatory limits for heavy metals in baby foods, parents can still take steps to reduce the amount of heavy metals their children ingest by doing the following:

  • Limit the amount of infant rice cereal children eat
  • Choose the right rice; white basmati rice and sushi rice have less inorganic arsenic as other types
  • Rethink rice prep: Cook rice in a large amount of water and drain it well afterward
  • Limit packaged snacks: Many contain rice flour and don’t supply much nutritional value
  • Use more foods that are low in heavy metals like apples, avacados, bananas and beans

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