Lead Detected In 20 Percent Of Baby Food, Juice Samples

An analysis of data from the Food and Drug Administration found that 20 percent of baby food samples contain lead.

The Environmental Defense Fund performed an analysis with 11 years of data from the FDA. In baby food samples, 20 percent contained lead, compared to 14 percent of other foods. In eight types of baby food, there were detectable levels of lead in more than 40 percent of samples, EDF reports.

The EDF used data from the FDA as part of its Total Diet Study, which has been conducted since the 1970s to track metals, pesticides and nutrients in food. The EDF evaluated all types of food, but paid special attention to certain types of baby food because of the vulnerability infants have with lead.

A child who develops lead poisoning may experience health problems, such as headaches and stomach pain or behavioral problems and anemia, according to Kids Health. Unsafe levels of lead in a child's blood can also affect brain development.

Each year in the U.S., 310,000 children between the ages of 1 and 5-years-old are found with unsafe levels of lead in their blood.

According to the EDF's report, at least one sample in 52 of the 57 types of baby food it analyzed had detectable levels of lead. Certain types of baby food more commonly contained lead. Lead was found in 89 percent of grape juice samples. In mixed fruit juice, 67 percent had lead, while 55 percent of apple juice contained lead and 45 percent of pear juice.

In root vegetable products, 86 percent of sweet potatoes baby food contained lead, and 43 percent of carrot products.

The EDF also found that the baby food versions of apple and grape juice and carrots had detectable lead more often than their regular versions.

Cookies were also commonly found to have detectable levels of lead. Sixty-four percent of arrowroot cookies had the harmful substance, as well as 47 percent of teething biscuits.

To combat lead being found in food, the EDF recommends the FDA ensures lead is not added to food products, announce that the international standards for fruit juice are inadequate, update the limits and food safety guidelines on lead risks to better protect children and encourage manufacturers to reduce lead levels in food. Should manufacturers exceed limits, EDF wants the FDA to take enforcement action.

Companies can take action without the FDA to limit lead exposure from their products by setting their own low-lead goals, prioritizing lead contaminant minimization when sourcing ingredients, and testing frequently for lead in their products and taking action to find the source, if applicable.

Sources: Environmental Defense Fund, Kids Health / Photo credit: bertholf/Flickr

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