Tuesday, 17 October, 2017

More lead found in baby foods than in regular food

Report finds lead in baby food Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast rewritten or redistributed
Steve Phelps | 18 June, 2017, 01:55

The Environmental Defense Fund analyzed publicly available data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Total Diet Study, which each year collects samples of food from around the country and tests it for a host of nutrients and contaminants, including lead. Twenty percent of the samples designated by the FDA as baby food had detectable levels of lead in them, compared to 14 percent for regular foods.

The analysis found that at least one sample in 52 of the 57 types of baby food had detectable levels of lead. The types of baby food most affected included grape, apple, pear and mixed fruit juices; root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and carrots; and arrowroot cookies and teething biscuits. The Center for Disease Control has said that low levels of lead can affect IQ and academic success. "The benefits of those nutritious foods far outweigh any risk", she said, especially in the context of where kids are most exposed to lead.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, a trade group representing food companies such as Gerber, said in a statement that lead and other minerals are found naturally in soil and water throughout the world.

For simplicity, the EDF sorted the baby foods into eight categories: root vegetables; non-root vegetables; fruits including juices; cereal; infant formula; prepared meals; crackers and cookies; and desserts.

Lead was found in just 4 percent of cereals.

The primary focus of the organisation was on baby foods due to the detrimental effect lead could have on child development. What is most worrying about this is the fact that researchers can't tell where the lead comes from.

This revised definition reflects findings from a 2012 National Toxicology Program Report that concluded a wide range of adverse health effects are associated with blood lead levels less than 5 μg/dL.

The Environmental Defense Fund is pushing manufacturers to set a voluntary limit of 1 ppb of lead in baby food and other foods marketed to young children.

The FDA has indicated that it is re-evaluating its standards for lead in foods.

What the source of lead might be in the baby food is unclear. "Avoiding all sources of exposure of lead poisoning is incredibly important ... but the last thing I would want is for a parent to restrict their child's diet or limit their intake of healthy food groups". Baby food is also processed more so there's a possibility that processing could play a role.

This story was updated on June 16 to correct the date of CDC recommendations and also to clarify that the 2017 EPA dietary lead exposure estimate is based on data from 2007-2013.


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