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Just-Out Independent Report On Toxic Metals In Baby Foods Tested Across Store Shelves, Including New York, Raises Serious Concerns; Even Traces Of Certain Metals Can Damage A Baby’s Brain & Development  

Medley Of Metals Include Arsenic, Lead, Mercury, & Cadmium; Schumer Wants FDA To Comb Latest Report & Publicly Respond –And To Move Fwd On Setting Long-Awaited Regs That Address Concerns Of Parents

Schumer: Heavy Metals In Baby Foods Mixed With FDA Inaction Is A Recipe For Disaster

On the heels of a just-out report detailing the presence of toxic metals in a wide variety of baby foods and alongside a newborn and her proud parents, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer demanded new federal action by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that would force the baby food industry to address the presence of heavy metals in their products and alleviate concerns raised by parents for the health and safety of their youngest and most vulnerable.

“When it comes to the first foods we feed our children, we rightfully expect those foods to be undeniably safe, nutritious, and appropriately regulated. We do not expect to learn that those first foods might come with—even a chance—of lasting consequence that could sabotage the development of newborns,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “Simply put, when baby food ingredients across of a variety of brands are called into question, it is the job and charge of the FDA to be the cop on the beat making sure serious questions are answered and appropriate guidelines enforced. Right now, that’s not entirely the case, and it’s a fact pattern that needs to change, because parents are demanding answers."

Schumer demanded the FDA investigate the findings of the aforementioned independent, but credible, report sparking worry and urged the agency to propose regulations parents and others have been waiting on. Schumer said the FDA’s inability to even comment on the new report leaves many people concerned, and so in addition, he urged the agency to issue a public statement regarding the findings of the report. Schumer said the medley of metals found within baby food ingredients—including on New York shelves—raises serious health questions that demand clarity and long sought guidelines.

Schumer explained that a comprehensive study commissioned by Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF) found that 95% of tested baby foods contained toxic metals, including arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. According to the report, 168 baby foods were tested, and one in four products contained all four toxic heavy metals. The samples tested covered 61 brands and 13 types of food, including infant formula, teething biscuits, cereals, and fruit juices, all of which were selected by parents at their local stores and online. 

These toxic metals— arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury—are neurotoxins that can permanently alter the developing brain of a baby, erode their IQ, and affect behavior. While these metals are not unique to baby food, their presence in baby food is particularly concerning because of babies’ sensitivity to the toxic impacts.

“Heavy metals in baby foods mixed with inaction by the FDA on this issue is a recipe for disaster, and a rightful concern of parents,” Schumer added.

Schumer explained that the FDA established a Toxic Elements Working Group in 2017 to modernize safety standards for the toxic metals Americans are exposed to, including in food. However, the agency has introduced no new standards in the time since. For example, the FDA failed to finalize arsenic guidelines for infant rice cereal and apple juice by the end of 2018, a deadline the agency had set.

Amidst growing concern for the safety of children and their health, Schumer, today, publicly urged the FDA to:

  • Establish and finalize health-protective standards for heavy metals to protect against neurodevelopmental impacts.  
  • Implement a proactive testing program for heavy metals in foods consumed by babies and toddlers. 
  • Act immediately to establish a health-based limit for arsenic in infant foods, which the FDA is currently working on but remains unfinished.  

Schumer also urged the FDA to investigate this latest report, and then publicly comment on the findings. The FDA has thus far failed to comment on the report, understandably generating worry across a cohort of parents with newborns.

According to the report, arsenic can cause bladder, lung, and skin cancer and can harm the developing brain and nervous system. The report also identified at least 13 other studies that found a link between arsenic exposure in utero or during the first few years and IQ loss among children.

As it concerns lead, even very low exposure levels cause lower academic achievement, attention deficits, and behavior problems. No safe level of exposure has been identified.

Cadmium is a heavy metal linked to neurotoxicity and cancer, as well as kidney, bone, and heart damage.

And finally, mercury has been found to increase the risk for cardiovascular disease and poor performance on tests of vision and intelligence. It is also widely accepted that the developing brain is particularly sensitive to mercury exposure.