Many parents are already well aware of the fact that consumer products made in China, and particularly those marketed for children, have a not-so-hot track record of safety. But a recent investigation conducted by the Oakland, California-based Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) has revealed that many popular baby food products manufactured right here in the U.S. are also highly contaminated with potentially dangerous levels of lead.
As reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune, ELF recently conducted tests on 1,500 samples of baby food, packaged fruit, and juice products and found that many contain levels of lead exceeding the 0.5 micrograms (mcg) per serving maximum established under California’s Proposition 65. Based on data collected by the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), which was used for the analysis, many of the baby food products tested were found to contain anywhere between 2 and 29 mcg per serving of lead, or as much as 58 times the maximum threshold.
“Gerber Products, Del Monte Foods, Beech-Nut Nutrition and many other makers of baby foods and juices are selling products containing lead at levels that require warning labels under California Proposition 65,” explains an Associated Press release concerning the allegations of a lawsuit filed by ELF on behalf of consumers. “[B]oth sides in the case agree that baby foods containing carrots, peaches, pears and sweet potatoes have some lead. Also covered by the suit are grape juice and fruit cocktail.”
A link to the complete ELF report, entitled Lead Found in Children’s Foods and Baby Foods; Legal Notices Sent to Law Enforcement, can be found here:
Many children’s, baby food manufacturers are in violation of California law
For its research, ELF focused not only on baby food but also other foods that are commonly consumed by children. According to an announcement made by the group, it collected and tested as many brands in each category as it could find, particularly in California where Proposition 65 requires the labeling of products that contain levels of lead above the threshold. By addressing this violation of the law in the state of California, ELF will inadvertently, if successful, requir food manufacturers to reformulate their products for the benefit of not only Californians but all Americans.
“Lead exposure among children is a particular concern because their developing bodies absorb lead at a higher rate and because children are particularly sensitive to lead’s toxic effects, including decreased I.Q.,” says Dr. Barbara G. Callahan, Ph.D., D.A.B.T., a toxicologist from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst who has been performing public health and environmental risk assessments for the past two decades. She says the results of ELF’s tests are “alarming.”
“Lead already stored in the mother’s bone tissue is mobilized along with calcium, and additional lead exposure to the mother can further compromise the health of the most vulnerable among us,” she adds.
ELF is encouraging parents concerned about the safety of the baby food and children’s products they buy to contact their brands of choice and request product safety data. If the company refuses to provide such data, or if the available data reveals that contaminant levels are too high, demand that the company reformulate its products. If the company gives you any trouble, explain that you will purchase another brand, or even make your own baby food, if it does not make a legitimate effort to produce safer products.
You can view a comprehensive list of the best and worst baby foods for lead, as well as the best and worst children’s foods, by visiting the following links:
You can also keep up to date with the status of the ELF lawsuit by visiting:
Sources for this article include: