A new study that looked at baby food, including infant formula, was released on Wednesday, and the results are absolutely devastating. The study found that many baby food products and 80 percent of infant formula tested positive for arsenic. Many of the foods and formulas come from major brand names.
A non-profit organization that has dedicated itself to advocating on behalf of transparent labeling, The Clean Label Project, tested baby food, toddler food, baby formula, and drinks and snacks produced for toddlers throughout the course of the last five months. Several top brands tested positive for arsenic, including:
- Plum Organics
As frightening as it is to realize that your baby's food and formula could contain arsenic, it's important to note that many of the foods people consume contain trace amounts of arsenic: brown rice, shellfish, brussels sprouts, and even some chicken, to name a few, according to Rodale's Organic Life.
Here is the issue, though. The study by The Clean Label Project did not simply find trace amounts of arsenic in the baby food and formulas they tested. While there was obviously a range throughout the 530 different products, some tested as high as 600 parts per billion of arsenic.
Romper has reached out to Enfamil, Plum Organics, and Sprout for comment and is awaiting a reply.
A representative for Gerber provided Romper with the following statement via email:
A recent third-party report may have caused unnecessary alarm about the safety of baby foods and infant formula. We want to reassure parents that the health and safety of babies is our number one priority,which is why we never compromise on the quality of our formulas and foods for babies and toddlers. All Gerber foods meet or exceed U.S. government standards for quality and safety. We also have our own strict standards and our Clean Field Farming practices that go even further. To ensure we deliver on our mission to provide the very best for baby, we regularly test our foods and formulas and work closely with our suppliers and farmers to find ways to do even better. We encourage parents to reach out to our Parent Resource Center at 1-844-796-5723 if you have additional questions.
The study also found that products that were labeled "organic" were found to have double the amount of arsenic compared to conventional baby food. In total, 65 percent of the 530 foods tested positive for arsenic, despite the FDA proposing a limit of 100 parts per billion of arsenic in 2016. Consuming high levels of arsenic in food or beverages can have a life-altering effect on children, according to the World Health Organization, increasing their chances of getting cancer, skin lesions, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hindering their development. It can also hinder fine motor skills and cause children to struggle with retaining information.
Not only did The Clean Label Project find high levels of arsenic in baby food and infant formula, it also noted that 58 percent of these products tested positive for cadmium, a toxic heavy metal normally found in work environments. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked chronic exposure to cadmium to renal failure, respiratory diseases, developmental difficulties, cardiovascular disease, and skeletal lesions. According to the CDC, the highest adult recommended dose for cadmium in food is 1 x 10-3 mg/kg/day (ATSDR 1999). Soy-based infant formulas tested the worst, with seven times more cadmium than other formulas.
As for the dreaded BPA (Bisphenol-A, a toxic chemical that is often found in the lining of food containers and hygiene products), the study found that a full 60 percent of products which claimed to be BPA-free tested positive for BPA. According to Healthline:
BPA exposure during early life may influence birth weight, hormonal development, behavior and cancer risk in later life.
Several foods tested in the study were found to test even higher than the rest for arsenic, with snacks such as rice puffs testing the highest.
The Clean Label Project did have some good news for worried parents; it shared its top five list of best baby cereals, and Beech-Nut seemed to be a safe bet as it took three of the top five spots.
- Happy Baby Oatmeal Organic Probiotic Cereal
- Beech-Nut Stage 2 Oatmeal & Mixed Fruit Baby Cereal Muesli
- Beech-Nut Stage 1 Single Grain Oatmeal Baby Cereal
- Beech-Nut Stage 2 Multigrain Baby Cereal
- Little Duck Organics Mighty Oats Cereal 5 Ancient Grains Naked Cereal
As for the bottom five list of baby cereals, here they are for reference:
- Healthy Times Special Nourish Organic Brown Rice Cereal for Baby
- Organix Raspberry & Banana Muesli
- Gerber DHA & Probiotic Rice Cereal with Vitablocks
- Earth’s Best Organic Whole Grain Rice Cereal
- Parent’s Choice 1st Stage Rice Baby Cereal
Romper has reached out to the companies who make the bottom five baby cereals and is awaiting a reply.
It's more vital than ever to demand clean labels for all food, but most especially for infants. The Clean Label Project has started a petition for label transparency that you can sign here. You can use its website to check out the products it recommends for safe use, and share that information with friends and family. Because staying informed is the only way to make a difference in label transparency.