Reports of toxic metals in big brands of baby food have many parents worried and wondering. Is store bought baby food safe for your baby?
After reading this government report stating baby food was tainted with dangerous levels of toxic metals I was concerned.
I have a six month old baby who I’ve been feeding store bought puréed baby foods to. Not to mention my now four year old who I fed jarred baby food and baby food pouches too when she was a baby.
As a concerned parent I wanted to know what damage these baby foods may have caused my first child and what to do differently to avoid exposure of toxic metals to my baby.
I read the full government report and sought out the opinion of a registered Dietitian and Nutritionist to get to the bottom of this concerning news.
In today’s post we’ll talk about:
- What baby foods contain dangerous levels of toxic metals?
- Are store bought baby foods safe for your baby?
- Why organic brands of baby food and homemade baby foods aren’t necessarily safe from toxic metals.
- What I’m feeding my baby now.
* I am not a doctor. Nothing on this website should be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. I recommend you talk with your pediatrician or get nutrition counseling services from Alina Schmidt MS, RDN, LDN by contacting [email protected] *
* This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my disclosure here *
What Baby Foods Contain Toxic Metals?
After reports alleging high levels of toxic heavy metals in baby foods, the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy investigated seven of the largest baby food companies.
- Happy Family Organics
- Earth’s Best Organics
- Plum Organics
- Parent’s Choice
- Sprout Organic Foods
Happy Family Organics, Beech-Nut, Earth’s Best Organics, and Gerber complied and sent in testing results for their baby food. While Plum Organics, Parent’s Choice, And Sprout Organic Foods refused to participate.
The findings of the report concluded that these baby foods were tainted with significant levels of toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury.
Exposure to toxic heavy metals endangers infant neurological development and long-term brain function.
Furthermore, the government fears that Plum Organics, Parent’s Choice and Sprout Organic Foods unwillingness to hand over testing results of their baby food could mean they are hiding even higher levels of toxic heavy metals in their foods.
So Are Store Bought Baby Foods Safe For Your Baby?
Even after reading the government report I was still confused as to what to do.
Should I completely avoid store bought baby food? Should I buy organic baby food? Should I make my own baby food?
I didn’t know. So I reached out to my sister in law and Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Alina Schmidt to see what she thought of this concerning news.
You can read her response below.
Heavy Metals in Baby Foods: What Parents Should Know and Do
Alina Schmidt, MS, RDN, LDN
A report from the US House Committee on Oversight and Reform that looked at four companies (Nurture, Beech-Nut, Hains, and Gerber) found that commercial baby foods contain dangerous levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury (Heavy Metals in Baby Food, 2021). Toxic heavy metal exposure can be damaging to the developing brain. The low levels of heavy metals likely make up a small part of a baby’s overall heavy metal exposure (Heavy Metals in Baby Food?What Parents Should Know or Do, 2021). However, exposure from all sources should be minimized.
How Do Metals Get Into Foods?
Metals are found naturally in the Earth’s crust. They are also released into our environment as pollution and get into the water and soil used to grow food. Metals also can get into food from manufacturing and packaging. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration some of the most common metals that get into food include inorganic arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury (Heavy Metals in Baby Food, 2021; Heavy Metals in Baby Food?What Parents Should Know or Do, 2021).
Does This Mean Organic Baby Foods Are Safer?
Organic baby foods may have lower levels of certain pesticides and other chemicals however, many contain brown rice. Many rice plants naturally contain arsenic and brown rice contains more arsenic than white rice (Heavy Metals in Baby Food, 2021; Heavy Metals in Baby Food?What Parents Should Know or Do, 2021). The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the FDA recommend limiting rice intake for babies. Additionally, because heavy metals are found in soil and can get into prepared foods from processing organic foods often contain similar levels of heavy metals as non-organic foods.
How to Keep Your Baby Safe
It’s nearly impossible to know which baby foods are completely safe and which aren’t. The FDA is continuing to work on better monitoring and regulations of heavy metals in baby foods.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has the following suggestions for families to help decrease their children’s exposure to heavy metals in their food and drink:
Eat the rainbow. Give your child a wide variety of different foods that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables (wash in cool water before preparing and serving), grains, and lean protein.
Read the labels. Multi-ingredient baby food blends may be a good option. Be aware that many have the same first or second ingredient, though. Different flavor blends, like kale/pear and spinach/pumpkin, for example, may actually both have sweet potatoes as their first ingredient. It’s important to read the ingredients label to be sure you are offering a true variety of foods
Make homemade baby food: Babies don’t need solid foods until 6 months of age. At that time it’s perfectly fine to give them soft table foods instead of baby foods. You can also make your own baby food, using steamed or naturally soft foods and a blender. Be sure to offer a variety of foods to ensure your child is getting all the nutrients they need!
Vary the grains. As mentioned above, it’s best to limit rice and rice products (check labels — rice is in a lot of foods marketed for babies, like “puffs”). Try barley, oats, and other grains. When cooking rice, it’s best to cook it in extra water and drain that water off, and to use white basmati and sushi rice, which have less arsenic.
Check your water. Old pipes can contain lead, which can leach into drinking water.
Avoid fruit juices. Not only can they increase the risk of cavities and obesity, but many commercial juices also contain heavy metals.
Make healthy fish choices. Fish contains nutrients that are very healthy for the developing brain, but some fish can contain unhealthy amounts of mercury. Stay clear of big, predatory, long-living fish like swordfish, shark, or albacore tuna; it’s better to choose fish like cod, light tuna, salmon, or pollock.
Talk with your Pediatrician:
If you are concerned about metals exposure in your child, talk with your pediatrician.
If you have additional questions or concerns feel free to contact Alina Schmidt, MS, RDN, LDN at [email protected] and follow on IG:diaitahlthandwellness for all your nutrition related information and counseling services.
Heavy metals in baby food? What parents should know and do – harvard health blog. (2021, March 05). Retrieved March 06, 2021, from http://buleboon.com/heavy-metals-in-baby-food-what-parents-should-know-and-do-harvard-health-blog/
Heavy metals in baby food. (2021, March 05). Retrieved March 06, 2021, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/Pages/Metals-in-Baby-Food.aspx
What I’m Feeding My Baby Now
First I want to say thank you to Alina for clearing this up!
Now we know fruits, vegetables, and grains absorb heavy metals from the soil. So they’re going to be found in store bought baby food (organic or not) and in homemade baby food.
I’m giving my baby oatmeal cereal instead of rice and limiting her root vegetables (ex. carrots, sweet potatoes) since these foods were reported to absorb more toxic heavy metals.
And like Alina said, feeding her the rainbow to give her a variety of nutrients that she needs.
But I wanted to do more.
I was going to make my own baby food for her, although the thought was daunting since I already don’t have a lot of time on my hands. But after learning homemade baby food was going to contain heavy metals anyway it didn’t seem worth it.
Then I saw an ad that caught my eye for an organic baby food service called Yumi. At first I thought that wasn’t worth it either since all foods are absorbing heavy metals from the soil, there’s no escaping it.
Or is there?
After a lot of research, I decided to try Yumi for my baby and I’m so glad I did. You can read my full Yumi review here and find out why I believe this is the best and safest baby food.
- Heavy toxic metals are found in store bought, organic, and homemade baby food because fruits, vegetables, and grains absorb heavy metals from the soil.
- Rice contains very high levels of arsenic. Avoid rice cereals and other baby foods that contain rice.
- Always read the labels of baby foods to know what you’re feeding your baby.
- Try to feed your baby a variety of foods.
- Talk with your pediatrician and reach out to Alina Schmidt, MS, RDN, LDN at [email protected] and follow on IG:diaitahlthandwellness for all your nutrition related information and counseling services.