4 Tips to Avoid Lead in Baby Food

4 Tips to Avoid Lead in Baby Food

babyfoodFirst arsenic in infant cereal and now lead in baby food?! As a parent, you want your baby to be able to grow and develop to their potential – and a good start with food is one step in supporting this. Lead-free food, that is! There’s no safe detectable level of lead in our blood. Even low levels of lead in humans have been linked to lower IQs and behavioural problems.

A new report from an independent organization called the Environmental Defense Fund analyzed 11 years of Food & Drug Administration data in the United States and found that food was a source of lead contamination.  14% of  all 1o,064 foods analyzed contained lead. Even more concerning is that a higher proportion of baby food (20% of the 2,164 baby food samples analyzed) also contained lead.  This is a problem because babies are smaller and developing quickly, so at a higher risk of being damaged by lead exposure than adults.

Lead was found most often in fruit juices, especially grape juice (89% of samples contained lead), mixed fruit juices (67%), apple juice (55%) and pear juice (45%). The “baby” version of apple juice and grape juice had more samples that contained lead than the regular “adult” versions! Root vegetables like sweet potatoes (86%) and carrots (43%) were also commonly found to contain lead. As were baby teething biscuits (47%) and arrowroot cookies (64%).

Why was lead found in the baby food? It could be from the soil and water that the fruits, veggies and grains were grown with. The baby food could also be contaminated with lead from the processing equipment or old lead paint in manufacturing facilities.

It’s important to note that all samples had levels lower than the current (decade-old) FDA allowable limits. But this doesn’t mean the lead contamination is not a problem. Why is there an allowable limit of something we know can be toxic -especially in kids! The Environmental Defense Fund recommends that the FDA review these limits. Good idea!

Tips to try and avoid lead in your baby food:

  1. Avoid juice for your kids. Juice was most likely to contain lead. Not only that, but all juices are high in sugar, low in fibre and not a nutrient-dense choice for your baby anyways. The new American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines recommend juice not be given at all to babies under a year old.
  2. Avoid store-bought teething biscuits and cookies. Again, not only are they nutrient-poor foods, they also tested commonly contaminated with lead.
  3. If you purchase baby food, ask your favourite company if they have tested for lead.
  4. Make your own baby food or use baby led weaning. Produce you buy in the store still may contain small amounts of lead . If you grow your own produce, you could look into the testing the level of lead in your garden soil, or ask the farmer at the market if their soil has been tested. But at least with making your own food, you’re by-passing the other potential contamination points during the manufacturing of store-bought baby food.

Want to skip the purees? Grab my top 7 recipes to get started with Babyled Weaning below: 

 

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