Your cart is currently empty!
The Truth About Heavy Metals in Your Baby’s Food
A number of studies in recent years have found unsafe levels of heavy metals in popular packaged infant and toddler foods. Most recently, a congressional study released in 2021 found that these contaminants are detrimental to adults and children alike.
Why It Matters
Unfortunately, babies absorb heavy metals more readily than adults. Their small, developing brains and organs are more vulnerable to their negative effects.² Exposure to certain heavy metals early in life has been linked to problems with development, cognitive delays, and even behavioral issues like autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children and teens.³
1. What Can I Do?
You can limit your child’s exposure to potentially harmful heavy metals, like lead, mercury, cadmium, and inorganic arsenic, by choosing ingredients that operate as blockers and binders. You can also avoid foods that contain higher levels of heavy metals. Keeping processed and packaged foods to a minimum is a great first step.
2. What is the Impact?
Over 90% of parents rely on packaged convenience foods.¹ The amount of heavy metal these foods can contain is largely unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
Heavy metal exposure can have long-term impacts on your baby’s health and quality of life.³ For example, research has linked early childhood exposure to inorganic arsenic and lead to lower IQ scores and lower socioeconomic status in adulthood.
3. How Does It Get There?
Heavy metals turn up in our foods as a result of the soil, water, farming practices (like pesticide application), and pollution in the environment a food is grown and manufactured in. Surprisingly, organic baby and toddler foods do not contain lower levels of heavy metals, despite organic foods not being sprayed with pesticides. (4.)
4. How Can I Avoid Heavy Metals?
Avoid regularly serving infant versions of juices, packaged sweet potato or carrots, or rice based foods and snacks as these foods contain higher levels of heavy metals.⁶ Switch rice cereals and snacks for oats, barley, or other iron-fortified, whole grain options.
Aim to serve whole food snacks like fruits, vegetables, cheeses, or whole grain, homemade bars or muffins in place of processed cookies, crackers, puffs, crisps, and other snack foods packaged for babies and toddlers. If you do opt for packaged baby and toddler food products, stick with fruit and vegetable options as they are shown to contain the lowest amounts of metals.
How Big Is This Issue?
In recent testing conducted by Consumer Reports, rice cereals, and other rice- and sweet potato-based foods were found to contain higher levels of inorganic arsenic and mercury than other types of infant cereals or snacks.¹ Of the 50 infant and toddler foods Consumer Reports tested, 15 posed potential health risks to a child eating just one serving per day on a regular basis.
A separate test of 530 best-selling baby foods revealed that over 58 percent of the products tested contained cadmium, a heavy metal linked to learning disabilities and kidney damage.⁴ Snack foods like bars, cookies, crackers, crisps, and puffs were found to contain greater amounts of heavy metals than any other baby food category tested.