FDA official weighs in on heavy metals in baby food

Speaking on a packed zoom call at the virtual Institute of Food Technologists annual meeting & Expo (IFT FIRST​) on Tuesday, Conrad Choiniere, Ph.D., director of the Office of Analytics and Outreach at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said the report​ was “highly critical of manufacturers as well as the FDA, citing us for a lack of action.”

But he added that the report also “shocked and confused parents of young children… many of them tossed out the jars of baby food they had in their pantry, believing that these products were being recalled. They were not being recalled.”

Buying organic does not solve the problem

While the report did acknowledge that arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury are present in soil and water and can be sucked up by plants, this was lost on many parents, who assumed that ditching ‘processed’ baby food and instead buying organic foods, or making their own baby food by shopping the produce aisle or buying canned vegetables or fruits was the solution, which is not the case, he stressed.

The crops that are used to produce baby foods are also the crops that are used to fill the produce aisle ​[in the supermarket] or the crops that are used in canned goods in stores, so you’re going to find contamination with lead and arsenic and the others across all of those types of foods, including organically grown foods.”

“By 2024, we should have action levels for most of the toxic elements for the various foods​ [commonly consumed by babies and young children]. Some will be drafts and some will be final.”

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