Aug 11, 2022 - Health

Report: Homemade baby food has toxic metals like store options

Jars of Gerber baby food on shelves at a Shoprite Supermarket.

Jars of Gerber baby food on shelves at a Shoprite Supermarket. Photo: James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images

Homemade baby food contains as many toxic metals as food bought in the store, a report released Thursday found.

Why it matters: Babies and children exposed to heavy metals face the risk of "lifelong deficits in intelligence," the researchers note.

  • "Toxic metal exposure can be harmful to the developing brain. It's been linked with problems with learning, cognition, and behavior," according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Driving the news: The report, published by Healthy Babies, Bright Futures (HBBF), found that 94% of homemade baby foods and manufactured baby foods contain detectable amounts of one or more heavy metals.

  • "We found no evidence to suggest that homemade purees and family brands are generally safer, with lower metal levels, than store-bought baby food," the researchers found.
  • Researchers found that rice cakes and crisped rice cereal are heavily contaminated with arsenic and they both contain higher levels of arsenic than any other foods tested.
  • Researchers tested 288 foods, including sweet potatoes, carrots, cereal and bananas, for metals, including lead, arsenic, mercury and cadmium.

The least contaminated foods were fresh bananas, grits, manufactured baby food meats, butternut squash, lamb, apples, pork, eggs, oranges and watermelon, in that order, per the report.

Between the lines: HBBF, which produced the report, is comprised of a group of nonprofits, scientists and donors with a mission to reduce babies' exposures to neurotoxic chemicals.

What they're saying: "If you spread foods out, and offer a wide variety of options, you'll have less toxicity," pediatrician Dr. Mark Corkins, chair of the Committee on Nutrition of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told CNN, which was given exclusive access to the report.

  • "And nutritionally that's always been the right thing to do to get the most micronutrients from the food you eat."

Go deeper... Top baby foods contain toxic heavy metals, congressional panel finds

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