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Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration said Friday it will attempt to reduce chemical hazards in foods for babies and young children by increasing inspections of processing plants and sampling more food products for toxic heavy metals.

Why it matters: It follows a Congressional report published last month that found "dangerous levels" of arsenic, lead, mercury and other toxic heavy metals in baby food products made by U.S. companies.

  • Exposure to heavy metals can cause neurotoxic damage. Infants and children are more vulnerable to damage from exposure.

What they're saying: The FDA said it sent a letter to baby food manufacturers to remind them of their responsibility to reduce toxic elements in foods to levels as low as is reasonably achievable.

  • "We share the public’s concerns for the health of America’s children, and want to reassure parents and caregivers that at the levels we have found through our testing, children are not at an immediate health risk from exposure to toxic elements in foods," the administration said.
  • "It’s important to understand that toxic elements are present in the environment, including in our air, water and soil, and therefore are unavoidable in the general food supply."

In addition to increased samples and inspections, the FDA said it will issue guidance "to identify action levels for contaminants in key foods, with plans to revisit those levels on a regular basis and lower them if appropriate."

  • Yes, but: The administration stopped short of committing to issuing new regulations, though it said it would take compliance and enforcement actions if necessary.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Technology

Scoop: Facebook exec warns of "more bad headlines"

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In a post to staffers Saturday obtained by Axios, Facebook VP of global affairs Nick Clegg warned the company that worse coverage could be on the way: “We need to steel ourselves for more bad headlines in the coming days, I’m afraid.”

Catch up quick: Roughly two dozen news outlets had agreed to hold stories based on leaked materials from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen for Monday publication — but the embargo fell apart Friday night as participating newsrooms posted a batch of articles ahead of the weekend.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

Inside Biden's Taiwan flubs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Twice this year, President Biden has blurted out commitments that the U.S. is prepared to defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion — forcing the White House to walk back his statements and leading to confusion over a high-stakes national security policy.

Why it matters: U.S. defense officials have publicly aired their concerns that China will take Taiwan by force in the next four to six years, perhaps sooner. The president's position on this question may soon have real-world, life and death consequences.