Gerber and Beech-Nut failed to properly test and remove baby foods with dangerous levels of inorganic arsenic from the market, while Sprout Foods Inc., Walmart’s Parent’s Choice and Campbell’s Plum Organics baby food were lax in testing and controlling for heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium, according to a US Congressional report released Wednesday by the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy.
“Today’s report reveals that companies not only under-report the high levels of toxic content in their baby food, but also knowingly keep toxic products on the market,” said Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, chair of the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, which conducted the investigation.
Exposure to heavy metals in baby food became a growing concern for parents after Healthy Babies Bright Futures, a coalition of advocates committed to reducing babies’ exposures to neurotoxic chemicals, tested 168 baby foods from major manufacturers in the US. The testing found 95% of sampled baby foods contained lead, 73% contained arsenic, 75% contained cadmium and 32% contained mercury. One fourth of the baby foods contained all four heavy metals.
The results mimicked a previous study by the US Food and Drug Administration that found one or more of the same metals in 33 of 39 types of baby food tested. “Even in trace amounts, these contaminants can alter the developing brain and erode a child’s IQ,” said Jane Houlihan, research director for Healthy Babies Bright Futures. “The impacts add up with each meal or snack a baby eats — especially when the levels are as high as Healthy Babies Bright Futures’ research and the subcommittee’s new report show.”
In an earlier investigation released in February, the subcommittee looked at internal testing documents from four major baby food manufacturers: Gerber; Beech-Nut Nutrition; Nurture, Inc., which sells Happy Baby products; and Hain Celestial Group, Inc., which sells Earth’s Best Organic baby food.
The documents showed some products contained levels of lead, mercury, cadmium and inorganic arsenic were far above limits set for bottled water by the FDA and the US Environmental Protection Agency. Inorganic arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury are in the World Health Organization’s top 10 chemicals of concern for infants and children.
Of the four companies, the subcommittee found only Nurture tested the final product — the actual food babies would eat — after all ingredients had been added. The rest of the companies tested some, but not all ingredients, the investigation found.
That’s a significant concern, the report said, because each ingredient may have levels of toxins that fall under the cutoff for safety — but when added together, they may exceed government standards [CNN].
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: CBS LOCAL
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