More than a decade analyses were performed on 20% of baby food samples which showed detectable levels of lead as per recently released report by a nonprofit group called Environmental Defense Fund.
The Environmental Defense Fund evaluated data collected by the Food and Drug Administration from the period of 2003 – 2013. This study involved 2,164 baby food samples where it was discovered that 89% of grape juice samples, 86% of sweet potatoes samples and 47% of teething biscuits samples had in their content detectable levels of lead.
The study author Tom Neltner of the Environmental Defense Fund states: “The levels we found were relatively low, but when you add them up — with all the foods children eat … it’s significant.”
However, none of the baby food samples seemed to exceed the Food and Drug Administration’s allowable levels of lead. Nevertheless, the FDA is reviewing its standards having the concern that current standards are becoming obsolete as the latest science shows the existence of potential health risks, especially when children are concerned.
According to the renowned pediatrician Jennifer Lowry who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Environmental Health.: “I think the onus is really on FDA and industry to change their standards to reflect what we know, that there is no safe lead level.”
Further on, she maintains that the FDA has “old standards … and they haven’t been updated in decades.”
The guidance on lead in children was updated in 2012 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where a level of 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood is considered to be high for children. Moreover, no level of lead is considered safe for use when children are concerned as it contains potential detrimental effects on child development.
Conclusively, the CDC stated: “even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. And effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected.”
Nowadays, pediatricians advise the consumption of plenty different kinds of fruits and vegetables because in this way the risk from a single food will become minimized. Likewise, diets rich in iron, calcium and vitamin C can limit the absorption of lead.
Parents are advised to limit the amount of fruit juice their children are drinking which was also recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to the pediatric group children/babies that have not reached their first year should not drink any juice.
The FDA maintains that their goal is to protect human health by “ensuring that exposure to lead is limited to the greatest extent feasible.” Yet, it emphasizes that these traces of lead in food can come from the environment as well.
There is no clear indication if the lead detected in the baby food originates from soils or other sources. But, if the lead is in the soil which can be absorbed by growing crops, then it “cannot simply be removed,” as per FDA fact sheet.