There’s nothing more terrifying than reading a headline about the baby food you’ve been giving your infant is full of toxins. The New York Times did a bombshell article revealing that the majority of the big baby food brands (including the organic ones) tested for high levels of arsenic, lead and cadmium. So what does that mean for your baby and what other options do you have?
The article highlighted the fact that the FDA has been aware of toxic levels of metals inside baby food and hasn’t been regulating it before it hits the shelves--despite the fact that it poses a clear risk to infants and toddlers. Too much metal exposure has been linked to behavioral problems and brain damage. I’ll let that last sentence sink in. Le sigh.
So how do metals play a role in baby food? When questioned by congressional investigators, Gemma Hart, a spokeswoman for Nurture, said that Happy Family products were safe and that the metals, which are naturally found in soil and water, were present only in “trace amounts.” She’s not wrong that metals do naturally occur in some grains and vegetables, but the amounts are most likely increased during production, and to a level that is considered unsafe for babies and toddlers.
So what can you do? Yes, giving pouches is an easy way to start your infant on solids. Yes, throwing a pouch in your diaper bag while you’re on the go makes life easier. Yes, it’s time consuming to make your own baby food. But the reality is that baby pouches and jars are simply not being regulated the way they need to be and can pose a health risk to your baby.
The investigators said the FDA should require baby food manufacturers to test finished products, not just ingredients, for heavy metals; report the test results on food labels so consumers can see them; and phase out ingredients like rice, which may be loaded with heavy metals. But until that happens, you can either make your own baby food at home or do your own research and find companies who hold their baby foods to a higher standard.
There are a handful of companies who have been awarded the Clean Label Project’s Purity Award and tested for lower levels of toxins--those companies include Once Upon a Farm, Tiny Human Food, Yummy Spoonfuls, Cerebelly and Fresh Bellies. For more info on which brands have tested for lower levels of toxins, check out cleanlableproject.org.