Many baby food products, including infant formulas, were tested positive for arsenic and other toxic contaminants known to pose potential dangers to developing minds and bodies.
In a study released on Wednesday, Oct. 25, Clean Label Project tested baby food, toddler drinks and snacks, and infant formulas that were bought over the past five months.
The nonprofit, which advocates for transparent labeling of products, looked at the top-selling formulas and baby food as well as emerging national brands based on Nielsen data. Of about 530 products that the researchers tested, 65 percent were found positive for arsenic, 58 percent for cadmium, 36 percent for lead, and 10 percent for acrylamide.
These toxic substances can have unwanted impact on babies' motor skills and cognition. Arsenic, a toxin associated with cardiovascular conditions, developmental defects, diabetes, neurotoxicity, skin lesions, and even cancer, was present in nearly 80 percent of infant formulas. Rice-based baby food in particular, such as snack puffs, tend to have the highest levels of arsenic.
Arsenic in rice cereals is not surprising. Several studies have already found traces of the said chemical in rice-based food products. In a 2016 study, researchers found that babies fed with rice-based food products are at increased odds of having higher concentrations of inorganic arsenic in their urine.
Although the quantities of the contaminant vary, some of the products were tested positive for up to 600 parts of arsenic per billion. The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2016 proposed a limit of 100 parts per billion of arsenic in infant rice cereal, which means the chemicals detected were not mere trace amounts.
Of the products that claim to be BPA-free, 60 percent were found positive for the industrial chemical bisphenol A.
Lead, which is linked to lower IQ, hearing issues, behavioral problems, anemia, and slowed growths in children, was found in more than 2,100 baby food samples tested by researchers in a June 2017 study.
The researchers also found that mainstream brands, which include Enfamil, Gerber, Plum Organics, and Sprout, were among the worst offenders that scored two out of five in the report card for toxic metals.
"As consumers and parents we all want to feed our loved ones the cleanest food possible. There are a lot of troubling news stories about arsenic in baby rice cereal and lead in water, as well as pesticides, antibiotic resistance and additives in foods," Clean Label Project wrote on its site.