Lead detected in 20% of baby food samples

Lead detected in 20% of baby food samples

A newly-published report from the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has revealed that nearly 20 per cent of baby food samples tested over a decade had detectable levels of lead.

The EDF evaluated data gathered by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) from 2003 to 2013. Of the total 2,164 baby food samples, 86 per cent of sweet potatoes samples, 89 per cent of grape juice samples, and 47 per cent of teething biscuits samples had lead.

None of the food samples exceeded the FDA’s allowable levels of lead but pediatricians say there is no safe level of it.

Study author Tom Neltner warned in a written statement, “The levels we found were relatively low, but when you add them up — with all the foods children eat ... it's significant.”

Pediatrician Jennifer Lowry, who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Environmental Health, stressed that the onus to change their standards regarding lead was on the FDA and industry.

Experts say that even very low levels of lead in children’s blood can affect their IQ levels, ability to pay attention as well as academic achievements. Effects of exposure to lead can’t be corrected.

The FDA statement on the issue further informed...

The FDA has monitored levels of lead in foods for decades through the Total Diet Study (TDS), the Agency's ongoing market basket survey in which about 280 core foods (TDS foods) in the U.S. food supply are collected, prepared as for consumption, and analyzed to determine levels of various contaminants and nutrients in those foods. The FDA also tests for lead in foods under the Toxic Elements in Food and Foodware and Radionuclides in its Food Compliance Program.

To date, the FDA has set specific lead levels for a variety of foods. We set a guidance level for candy likely to be consumed frequently by small children (100 ppb). We established an Import Alert for certain dried fruits found to contain lead above 100 ppb. We also set an allowable level for lead in bottled water (5 ppb) at the time the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established public drinking water lead requirements.

In addition to our role in monitoring the safety of foods on the U.S. market and taking regulatory action when warranted, the FDA participates with an international body, Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex), to review the scientific data concerning lead and other contaminant levels in foods. These international discussions can lead to recommendations for standards individual countries may adopt.