Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Health Care | By Jan Bell

Pediatricians advocate no safe level for lead found in baby food samples

Pediatricians advocate no safe level for lead found in baby food samples

The Environmental Defense Fund explored data from the Food and Drug Administration, finding what it calls "detectable" levels of lead in some baby food - though there's no information about how much or which brands are involved, and some samples had no lead at all.

Baby food versions of apple and grape juices and carrots had more samples with detectable lead than the regular versions. According to the upgrade, having 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood is a high level, although there is no safe amount of lead in the body system of a child due to its adverse effect on child development.

According to the study, children with elevated lead levels were not being tested or diagnosed.

Some baby food sold in the United States contains lead, an environmental group warns. It affects one's ability to pay attention, and cause problems with the immune system and cardiovascular systems.

"Lead was detected in 20 percent of baby food samples compared to 14 percent for other food", according to the Environmental Defense Fund study, NBC News reported.

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Fruit juices: 89 percent of grape juice samples contained detectable levels of lead, while the same was true for 67 percent of mixed fruit juices, 55 percent of apple juices, and 45 percent of pear juices. Specifically, we examined potential IQ loss and the percentage of samples with high lead concentrations.

EDF also recommended that the FDA put safeguards in place to make sure lead isn't added to any foods or materials that may come in contact with food. The FDA doesn't have any firm regulations on lead in other foods but limits lead in grape juices to 50 ppb. She further said the standards of FDA are outdated, and they're yet to update in the past decades.

"Lead is in food because it is in the environment and lead can not simply be removed from food", according to FDA.org. Lead has no place in a child's diet.

For simplicity, the EDF sorted the baby foods into eight categories: root vegetables; non-root vegetables; fruits including juices; cereal; infant formula; prepared meals; crackers and cookies; and desserts.

The researchers, though, noted that not all lead in soil is naturally occurring.

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The FDA says the administration set a maximum daily lead intake of six micrograms, which is being reviewed, saying on its website, "lead is in food because it is in the environment and lead can not simply be removed from food". The 2,000 or so samples that were marketed for babies were split into 57 food types by the FDA. Arrowroot cookies (64 percent of 44 samples) and teething biscuits (4 percent of 43 samples) were most often found positive.

Average dietary lead exposure for young children is around 2.9 µg/day, which approximately equates to daily levels in food at about 2.9 ppb (assuming average consumption of about 1 kg of food).

Neltner said he's glad the FDA is working on the issue but wants them to "get it done".

For now, the FDA requires bottled water to have no more than five parts-per-billion of lead, mainly because that "was the lowest amount FDA could reliably measure in 1995, and only four percent of the water tested exceeded the limit", the EDF reports.

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