Arsenic and other toxins found in baby food

Small amounts of arsenic and other toxins have been found in top-selling baby foods, according to a study in the Journal of Food Chemistry.  Swedish researchers in the study tested leading brands from Organix, HiPP, Nestle and Holle.

Arsenic contamination of crops is a known problem associated with past pesticide use. Besides arsenic, other toxic elements such as cadmium, lead and uranium in soil were also found to have crept into the ingredients of baby foods.

The brands that have tested positive for toxins include:

  • Organix First Organic Whole Grain Baby Rice
  • HiPP Organic Peach and Banana Breakfast Porridge
  • Holle Organic Rice Porridge

The Swedish team said toxin levels were measured in micrograms, one millionth of a gram. The amounts found were higher than in breast milk. Dr. Karin Ljung who led the Swedish research confirmed none of the chemicals found were above existing safety limits. However, she said there is a need to review these levels to ensure developing children are protected. 

Professor Andrew Meharg, a biogeochemist at Aberdeen University, states, “Baby rice is a very popular choice for parents weaning their babies onto solids, but there is a concern of arsenic contamination… Baby companies should be sourcing baby rice from regions of the world where levels of inorganic arsenic are as low as possible.”

Though the levels of these contaminants found in the baby foods tested were within the current official safety limits set out by the European Commission, scientists warn that the risk to babies cannot be accurately estimated and it is best to be cautious. They recommend not feeding children rice-based foods until they are older than six months, and say that breast feeding up until that age can help to protect infants from elevated exposure.

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