(NEXSTAR) – A host of top baby foods are contaminated with heavy metals, a new congressional report found.
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform conducted the study, finding “high levels of toxic heavy metals” in certain baby foods, including arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury.
The report references a 2019 study that found 95% of baby foods tested contain toxic chemicals, including lead and arsenic.
Four companies, including Nurture, Beech-Nut, Hain and Gerber, responded to the committee’s request for information. Walmart, Campbell and Sprout Organic Foods refused to cooperate.
Exposure to heavy metals can cause “permanent decreases in IQ, diminished future economic productivity and increased risk of future criminal and antisocial behavior in children,” according to the report. Toxic heavy metals also endanger infant neurological development and long term brain function.
The results from the study found “multiples higher” of heavy metals than allowed under existing FDA levels, including results up to 91 times the arsenic level, 177 times the lead level, 69 times the cadmium level and 5 times the mercury level.
The report found current testing is “inadequate” and claimed the Trump administration “took no new action in response.”
The report also claims companies routinely ignore internal standards and fail to test their finished products.
“This compelling new evidence lays bare FDA’s clear failure to protect babies from the toxic heavy metals in their food,” said Charlotte Brody, National Director of Healthy Babies Bright Futures, in a press release. “While FDA studies the problem and companies set lax internal standards, millions of babies are exposed to these contaminants every day. It is time to step up and finally take clear action.”
One company says the government should be transparent with its findings. Andrea Ippolito, CEO of SimpliFed, told KXAN there needs to be increased testing for baby food, and toxic levels should be included on nutrition labels.
“Right now the system is broken, and we are not sharing this information to parents in a transparent way, in a way they can also understand. You shouldn’t have to be a food scientist to understand what’s happening, and you should be able to feel confident in what you are feeding your baby,” she explained.
To learn how to keep babies safe, you can visit the Healthy Babies, Bright Future FAQ sheet here.