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Consumer Reports Finds ‘Concerning’ Levels of Heavy Metals in Some Baby Foods

A test of 50 samples of popular baby foods not only found at least one heavy metal in all the samples, but determined that about a third of the samples raised concern if a child consumed just one serving — or less — a day. Consumer Reports conducted the study, finding that organic samples were just as likely to contain the heavy metals as nonorganic.

The metals included lead, cadmium and inorganic arsenic, with 68 percent of the samples containing “worrisome” levels. Consumer Reports’ chief science officer urged parents to review the findings in a balanced manner, saying these heavy metals are absorbed into food from soil; processing equipment could also be to blame, according to ABC News.

While the message to parents was to give their children a variety of foods that would limit any extended exposure to heavy metals, I’m more concerned about the casual statement that these heavy metals are absorbed into the food from the soil, and that organic foods were just as likely to contain them as nonorganic. It’s true that your foods soak up what’s in the soil — but I question the suggestion that you just try to balance what you give your child, as opposed to delving deeper into what’s causing those metals to be in the foods in the first place.

For example, studies show that while conventional and organic vegetables oftentimes offer similar levels of many nutrients, the frequency of occurrence of pesticide residues was four times higher in conventional foods. And along that line, conventional produce also had on average 48 percent higher levels of cadmium, a toxic metal and a known carcinogen — and one of the heavy metals Consumer Reports found in the baby food.

The inference here is that conventional foods grown with conventional pesticides and herbicides somehow end up with higher levels of certain heavy metals — a process that may tie in synergistically to the way these components interact with each other in the soil. The hitch is that the organic baby foods also tested positive for the metals. So, what should you as a parent do when you’re choosing foods for your child?

To begin, no matter what Consumer Reports found, going organic is always the best choice, if for no other reason than certified organic farms cannot use pesticides, which then may interact with naturally-occurring metals in the soils, which then increases the density of the metals in the foods. This is important because studies show there is no lower level of pesticides that is safe for children — meaning organic is still the best way to go.

Herbicides like Roundup are just as concerning, as independent testing shows that a number of foods, including children’s breakfast cereals and even orange juice, contain surprising amounts of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup.

One solution to finding safe foods for your baby, then, could be to shop for organic foods that have been certified as such, and then make your own baby foods. It takes a little extra effort, but this way you can be sure the foods are as nontoxic as possible.
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