Commercial baby foods are often tainted with “significant levels” of heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury — which could lead to “irreversible” brain development issues, according to a congressional report released Thursday.
“The Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization have declared them dangerous to human health, particularly to babies and children, who are most vulnerable to their neurotoxic effects,” the report said.
“Even low levels of exposure can cause serious and often irreversible damage to brain development,” added the report, which was released by the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy.
The committee on Nov. 6, 2019, requested internal documents and test results from seven of the largest manufacturers of baby food in the US after reports alleging high levels of toxic metals.
The seven companies were:
— Nurture, which sells Happy Family Organics, including products under the name HappyBABY.
— Hain, which sells baby foods under the brand name Earth’s Best Organic.
— Campbell, which sells baby foods under the brand name Plum Organics.
— Walmart, which sells baby foods through its private brand Parent’s Choice.
— Sprout Organic Foods.
Four of the companies — Nurture, Beech-Nut, Hain and Gerber — responded to the Subcommittee’s requests.
Walmart, Campbell and Sprout Organic Foods refused to cooperate with the probe.
“The Subcommittee is greatly concerned that their lack of cooperation might be obscuring the presence of even higher levels of toxic heavy metals in their baby food products than their competitors’ products,” the report said.
Arsenic, lead and cadmium were present in baby foods made by all the responding companies.
Mercury was detected in baby food of the only responding company, Nurture, that tested for it.
Beech-Nut and Hain do not even test for mercury in baby food, while Gerber rarely tests for mercury in its baby food, according to the report.
The report recommends that the FDA set maximum levels of toxic heavy metals permitted in baby foods and require companies to test their finished products — not just their various ingredients — for the metals.
“Baby food manufacturers hold a special position of public trust. Consumers believe that they would not sell products that are unsafe. Consumers also believe that the federal government would not knowingly permit the sale of unsafe baby food,” the report said.
“As this staff report reveals, baby food manufacturers and the Trump administration’s federal regulators have broken the faith,” it added.