"Arsenic in 80% of infant formula", finds study by Clean Label Project

A baby holds a bottle and sits in a high chair

Of the baby products tested, 65 percent contained arsenic, 36 percent contained lead, 58 percent contained cadmium and 10 percent contained acrylamides. More than a third of the baby products tested positive for lead.

Since it was about the foods fed to the most vulnerable population in the United States, families across the country were concerned. The group of researchers examined the highest selling baby formulas, snacks, and liquids available on the market using Nielsen Data.

The Clean Label Project posted and graded the products on its website but did not publish its findings in a peer-reviewed journal.

In the study, they tested over 500 baby food products including 86 infant formulas, 138 toddler snacks, 138 baby food pouches, and 30 baby cereals. The products were made by a wide range of companies including 365 Everyday Value, Annie's Homegrown, Baby Mum-Mum, Beech-Nut, Enfamil, Gerber and the Honest Company. Rice often absorbs arsenic from contaminated soil as it grows in the environment.

Dr. Ayoob, who also specializes in child nutrition in his own clinic, also shared his skepticism of the recent study, claiming that the organization's refusal to add context to their numbers "borders on irresponsible".

In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed a limit of 100 parts per billion of arsenic in infant rice cereal, but isn't enforcing that limit. It's great if the study spurs a conversation about chemicals in our food supply, but there's no reason to stop buying baby food or formula entirely.

"It is important for consumers to understand that some contaminants, such as heavy metals like lead or arsenic, are in the environment and can not simply be removed from food", Peter Cassell, a FDA spokesperson. Due to this babies can also develop abnormalities at the later stage of life. And again, without seeing specific data, it's impossible to say how much of each chemical was found in the products.

They also found that 60 per cent of products with "BPA free" labels in fact tested positive for bisphenol A, an industrial chemical which is used to make plastic.

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