A new report is showing some of the most popular brands of baby food still containing heavy metals – arsenic, cadmium and lead – several years after a similar report also shows concerning levels of the substances.
Consumer Reports on Tuesday published the results of the follow-up study showing brands including Earth’s Best Organic, Organics Happy Baby, Beechnut Naturals, Gerber and Baby Mum-Mum all containing amounts of the three metals. The report said while some amounts had decreased over the past five years, the overall risk from the food had not changed much.
The report said long-term intake of heavy metals may increase the risk of a variety of health and developmental problems in young children, including a lower IQ and behavioral issues, as well as ADHD, autism, and other issues.
“Some of the products were actually better in terms of heavy metals,” said Dr. James Rogers, director of food safety research and testing for the nonprofit. “In fact, we were able to recommend to parents if they so desire, they could feed more servings of three of the products. One of the products stayed the same. Three of the products actually did worse, so we had to reduce the amount of each of these products.”
Caitlin Berger is the mother to 1-year-old Jack. When it comes to making sure Jack is getting all the best nutrition, Berger and her husband Carl choose to make his meals themselves. They even have their own chicken coop.
“All our decisions are factored around Jack and it comes down to what we eat too,” said Berger. “I figure I like this stuff… so why not let him have some of that benefit as well?”
But like most parents, Caitlin doesn’t always have time to make everything that Jack eats.
“You know when you are a working mom, you don’t always have time to put things together,” she said. “You gotta use what you have and do it quickly.”
The study found that products containing rice and sweet potatoes had the highest levels of heavy metals. Researchers recommend giving a child no more than one serving a day, about one jar of baby food. But sometimes less than that.
Where it gets tricky is snack foods, because many of them are made with rice and kids tend to eat a lot of them, like those popular puffs. One serving is only 50 puffs.
UC San Francisco professor of reproductive studies Dr. Tracy Woodruff specializes in how harmful chemicals and pollutant impact health. She says the study shows how hard it is to grow food in this country without some exposure to heavy metals.
“The study shows baby food in general is safe,” said Woodruff. “I think what’s important is, and what the report does is an excellent job of talking about this, is a balanced diet for your baby. You try not to feed them one thing at a time.”
Berger says she’s not letting this study cause her to lose precious sleep.
“I can only do so much as a working parent,” said Berger. “I am not a scientist, my husband is not a scientist, and we have to trust what’s being put on the shelves is good for our child.”
As for Baby Jack, it’s safe to say, that philosophy hits the spot.