An alarming study from the Environmental Defense Fund found
lead in 20% of samples of baby food.
In the report, EDF evaluated data collected from the Food and Drug Administration between 2003 and 2013. Lead was found in 89% of grape juice samples and 86% of mashed sweet potato samples. Detectable lead was also found in 47% of teething biscuit samples. One of the most insidious findings was that baby food was more likely to contain lead than regular versions of comparable food items.
There is no safe level of lead exposure. Lead poisoning can result in anemia, renal dysfunction, reproductive illnesses, learning disabilities and behavioral problems. Children are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning - and because lead poisoning is cumulative, lead in baby food is a huge threat to youth.
But how does lead end up in baby food? There isn't one definitive answer. In applesauce and other mashed baby foods, lead can be explained by lead accumulating in soil and groundwater. The presence of lead in teething biscuits might come from facility contamination or trace minerals in powdered ingredients. Still, the mere presence of lead in baby food points to the need for even stricter FDA standards.
In the end of their report, EDF recommends for FDA to update its lead guidelines to "reflect current scientific understand of lead risks." They also ask for manufacturers to test their products more frequently and prioritize safety when sourcing ingredients.
Finally, EDF recommends consumers to take action by regularly testing products themselves. Unfortunately, EDF did not elaborate as to which brands or how much lead was found in flagged samples. Still, EDF recommends less than 1 ppb of lead for baby food.
No matter whether its inhaled or ingested, lead can be extremely toxic. Lead has no place in homes, nor in people's diets. Only vigilance and awareness can protect our communities from lead poisoning.
You can check out the full EDF report. To learn more about lead certification, visit Zack Academy's lead homepage.