June 16, 2017 6:41 pm

More lead found in baby foods than in regular food: study

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Children are consuming more lead than is healthy, a new study by an environmental watchdog warns.

In fact, there were eight types of baby food that contained lead 40 per cent of the time.

READ MORE: Canadian study finds added sugar in ‘healthier’ packaged snacks, baby food


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The study, called Lead in food: A hidden health threat by the U.S.-based Environmental Defense Fund, found that cumulatively children were consuming over the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s acceptable levels of lead consumption. While the study is American, many of the same brands of baby food can be found in Canada.

While no food contained an amount of lead that was over the allowed limits, children who ate multiple foods with lead in them are still at risk, Study author Tom Neltner, Chemicals Policy Director at EDF, said.

“Little things matter: a little bit of lead in everything you eat, adds up to a lot of lead in your diet,” he explained.

There is no known safe level of lead in blood, the study explained. Lead is known to cause developmental problems and behavioural issues.

In the study, the EDF analyzed 11 years worth of food collected by the FDA. The food was collected from a different city each year and combined into composite samples – for example all the grape juice was poured into one sample.

READ MORE: China’s 500,000 food safety violations include baby formula containing industrial chemicals

That means there’s no brand information for what products contain lead, but it does show that there’s a widespread issue in the U.S.  for trace amounts of lead in food.

In fact, nine out of 10 samples had detectable levels of lead for sweet potatoes and grape juice; it’s about two out of three for arrowroot cookies, and about one in two samples for apple juice, carrots, and for teething biscuits, the study shows.

Credit: Lead in food: A hidden health threat

Credit: Lead in food: A hidden health threat

There was also more lead found in apple juice and grape juice that was aimed at babies, compared to those juices for adults.

Credit: Lead in food: A hidden health threat

Credit: Lead in food: A hidden health threat

The reasons for this isn’t clear, Neltner said.

“We couldn’t find any study to find where this lead was coming from,” he said. “The FDA estimates it’s all from the soil, but that wouldn’t explain why it was more commonly found in baby food, baby grape juice and baby apple juice.”

As for what we can do to avoid it: Neltner encouraged parents to contact their favourite brands and ask what they’re practices are and make them aware of the problem.

“I think there’s opportunities to lower these levels, either by being more careful about how we source the baby food from, by being more careful by the processing.”

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