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Heavy Metals In Baby Food: How To Reduce The Risks

October 12, 2022 3 min read

In February of 2021, the U.S. government released a report finding commercial baby foods to be tainted with significant levels of toxic heavy metals. Since then, parents everywhere have been on alert. 

We know how concerning it can be when it comes to ensuring the health and safety of our growing children. That’s why we’re here to help equip you with the knowledge you need to keep only the safest and highest quality foods in your baby’s diet. 

So how can you help reduce your child’s exposure to heavy metals in baby food? Here’s what you need to know. 

How do heavy metals get into baby food?

Heavy metals - such as arsenicleadcadmium, and mercury - are present in the soil where much of our food is grown in. Though they naturally occur in Earth’s crust, metals can also be amplified by pollution and manufacturing processes.

While the absorbency of grains makes them more likely to have higher levels of heavy metals,  heavy metal toxicity is a problem that can be present in all foods. In fact, vegetables, fruits, meats, and seafood can all contain heavy metals, from lead to mercury. 

An excess of heavy metals can be extremely harmful to a baby’s health. In fact, studies have shown that toxic metal exposure can be linked to problems with healthy brain development - such as problems with learning, cognition, and behavior.  

Should I be worried about heavy metals in my child’s food?

Generally, baby foods are just a small part of a child’s overall risk of toxic metal exposure. However, it is prudent to exercise caution. As of now, the FDA does not monitor heavy metals in finished products of baby food - meaning that brands can, and often do, get away with higher levels of heavy metals in their baby food than considered safe. 

When shopping for baby food, look for brands that abide by the standards set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and that test rigorously for dangerous heavy metals and toxins. 

But remember - not all metals are bad, and some, like iron and zinc, are considered essential nutrients that are needed for healthy growth and development of your baby.

Four ways to reduce your baby’s exposure the heavy metals

1.) Try multi-grain products
Fortified infant cereals including rice and grains are a common and nutritious first food for our little ones. However, as rice tends to absorb more heavy metals from groundwater, it has the potential to be higher in arsenic than other grains. When picking an infant cereal, try including a variety of grains in your little one’s diet, including oat, barley, quinoa, or couscous. 

2.) Serve a well-balanced diet
Make sure your child receives a well-rounded and balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins. Multi-ingredient baby food or a variety of foods constantly rotated in their diet is key in helping to lower their exposure to toxic metals, whether buying pre-made baby foods or making them at home!

3.) Look for brands that enforce safety standards
Brands that uphold their products to a higher quality and standard of safety are necessary for today’s baby food landscape. Search for brands that are known to rigorously test for purity, integrity, and potency by food safety experts - ensuring you and your child get a safe and consistent product every time.   

4.) Avoid other heavy metals risk factors
There are other ways to help reduce your baby’s exposure to toxic metals, such as:

  • Breastfeeding, if possible, as the sole source of nutrition until at least 4 months of age

  • Checking your tap water for contaminants

  • In line with USDA guidelines, avoid fruit juice until at least one year old, as some fruit juices can also contain higher levels of heavy metals

  • Just because it is organic doesn’t mean it is safe, as these foods often contain similar levels of heavy metals as non-organic food. Check labels of organic foods just as closely.  

SpoonfulONE’s Commitment to Quality and Safety

Every batch of SpoonfulONE is rigorously tested by our quality team, food scientists, and ingredient partners. With a rigorous heavy metals control strategy - we test every batch, every time, for heavy metals against standards that meet or exceed national and international regulatory requirements. Ingredients that do not meet our exacting specifications are immediately rejected, quarantined for discard, and never used.