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Toxic metals in baby food? Are baby foods safe to eat?

by |  February 15th, 2021

Toxic Metals Found in Baby Food! Oh my! As if the winter storms and the pandemic wasn’t enough, the media had to find some new click-bait to keep us reading/watching/rolling our eyes and wondering when this dystopian nightmare will finally end. And now we (particularly pediatricians) have to deal with the Great Toxic Metal Baby Food Scare of 2021. To be fair, this is actually so 2019 it’s not even really news.

Let me explain: In November 2019, the advocacy organization, Healthy Babies Bright Futures published a report called What’s in my Baby’s Food?

This report claimed that 95% of baby foods they independently tested contained toxic metals (arsenic, lead, cadmium, mercury) that might adversely affect a child’s lifelong IQ. Toxic baby food made the news again when a congressional subcommittee published a report on February 4, 2021 requesting regulation and legislation in response to these concerns.

So, do you really need to worry about toxins in baby foods? Eh.

Here are some key takeaways:

  1. The problem isn’t baby food…it’s food in general. All food, including pre-prepared baby food, can be contaminated with metals found in the earth’s crust, and thus, our water and soil. Rice products contain higher levels of arsenic, so limiting them in all of our diets just makes sense. Rice is a popular ingredient in baby foods such as cereal, puff snacks, and teething biscuits. But no one is forcing you to feed your kid puffs all day long! In fact, we encourage you to feed your baby a variety of foods and textures.
  2. Switching to organic baby food isn’t going to fix this problem. Read #1 takeaway above. Metals are in our soil and water regardless of organic farming practices.
  3. Other relatively contaminated products include apple juice, grape juice, rice milk, and some carrots and sweet potatoes. As a reminder, we don’t recommend juice to kids under one year of age anyway, and avoid or offer limited amounts (4 oz a day) of juice if you really feel compelled to offer it to kids over age one (there is not much nutritional benefit and juice is a sugary beverage).
  4. The response from the American Academy of Pediatrics? Offer a variety of food, particularly in the grains category, and don’t worry too much about it!

PC: Pixabay, Terri Anne Allen

|, , 411 Pediatrics Current Events


Dr. Ari Brown is a pediatrician and a mom. Dr. Brown is Board Certified and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She has been in private practice for over 20 years. Her passion to advocate for children and educate families extends beyond the office setting. She is the co-author the bestselling "411" parenting book series including Expecting 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for your Pregnancy, Baby 411, and Toddler 411. Dr. Brown has received several professional awards including the Ralph Feigin, MD Award for Professional Excellence, the prestigious Profiles in Power Award by the Austin Business Journal for her service to the community, Austin's Favorite Pediatrician by Austin Family Magazine, and Texas Monthly Magazine's Super Doctor.

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