According to an advocacy group’s report released this week, two-thirds of baby food products in the United States test positive for arsenic and other toxins.
The study was conducted over a period of five months by the Clean Label Project, a Denver-based nonprofit that advocates for changes to consumer product labeling. The study included samples from more than 500 infant formulas and baby food products from 60 brands, KTLA sister station WXIN in Indianapolis reported.
According to the Clean Label Project, the products were screened for 130 toxins, including heavy metals, BPA, pesticides and other contaminants. Popular baby brands such as Healthy Times, Organix, Gerber, Earth’s Best, and Parent’s Choice made the Clean Label Project’s list for five worst offenders.
The study was not published in a peer-reviewed journal, meaning its methods and research quality have not been examined by outside scientists.
Researchers found arsenic in 65 percent of baby food products; cadmium in 58 percent of the products; and lead in 36 percent of the products.
Nearly 80 percent of infant formulas tested positive for arsenic, and 60 percent of products claiming to be BPA free tested positive for BPA.
Arsenic often occurs naturally in rice, so rice-based baby foods are some of the worst offenders, the Clean Label Project’s executive director told USA Today. A federal limit on arsenic in rice baby cereal has been proposed.
“It is important for consumers to understand that some contaminants, such as heavy metals like lead or arsenic, are in the environment and cannot simply be removed from food,” Peter Cassell, a spokesman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, told USA Today.
Baby food maker Gerber told the San Jose Mercury News the study is creating “unnecessary alarm.” The company released a statement to the paper:
We want to reassure parents that the health and safety of babies is our number one priority, which is why we never compromise on the quality of our formulas and foods for babies and toddlers. All Gerber foods meet or exceed U.S. government standards for quality and safety. We also have our own strict standards and our Clean Field Farming practices that go even further.
The paper also talked to a pediatrician in the Bay Area who recommended that parents feed their children homemade food – using a food processor and an ice-cube tray to freeze one-ounce cubes of food for later use.
You can find a complete list of the products the Clean Label Project tested and graded on its website here.
KTLA’s Melissa Pamer contributed to this article.