The recent headlines about toxic metals in most brand’s babys’ food have left parents with endless questions about their babies’ safety. On 4th February, a new congressional report overtook the headlines claiming that many top baby food brands have dangerous levels of toxic metals, including mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and lead. A team of sub-congressional investigators requested test results and internal documents analyzing the products’ heavy metals from the top baby food manufacturers, including Gerber, nurture, beech-nut, and hain.
They revealed that the top baby infant food brands’ manufacturers have often sold foods that exceed the required metal levels, hence exposing babies to heavy metal toxicity. That is alarming to millions of parents who have previously fed their babies with the food, which has triggered the Gerber baby food lawsuit.
How do heavy metals get into baby food?
Heavy metals are naturally occurring, and they are found in the earth’s crust. The air, water, and soil contain these metals. But five specific metals: mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, and chromium, have high degrees of toxicity, hence pose a great risk to human health. They are released into the foods as pollution through water and soil used to grow the foods. These metals can also get into the foods during processing and packaging.
How harmful are heavy metals to your baby?
Some heavy metals such as magnesium, zinc, selenium, and iron are essential for the human body to grow and function, and inadequacy can lead to deficiencies. However, toxic metals exposure is dangerous to the developing infant brain. It is linked to problems with cognition, learning, behavior, and other neurodevelopmental effects. There are rules and regulations for testing foods to limit the amount of toxic metals in baby’s foods. But as a parent, it is also upon you to reduce your baby’s exposure to toxic metals.
How to reduce your baby’s exposure to toxic metals
Read the labels carefully before purchase
It is crucial to read the labels on baby’s food brands carefully before purchase. Foods that mix different ingredients are better. In most brands, the first or second ingredient may be the same but look for additional organic ingredients like spinach, kale, pumpkin, pear, etc., to ensure you give your baby a variety of organic foods.
Give your baby a variety of foods.
Serve your baby a well-balanced diet, mainly organic foods and vegetables. Wash vegetables and fruits thoroughly before serving or preparing to wash out any harmful chemicals. Feeding your baby with various healthy foods with essential vitamins reduces exposure to heavy metals and many other food contaminants.
Keep on changing your grains.
While fortified infant cereals are suitable for your baby, rice cereal is not the only cereal you can use. Rice is more vulnerable to absorb arsenic from the groundwater more than any other crops. Ensure you include multigrain infant cereals in your baby’s diet. Various grains such as oat, bulgur, quinoa, barley, and couscous are good options. Avoid brown rice syrup and rice milk which are often used as sweeteners in baby’s foods.
Breastfeeding as much as possible also reduces your baby’s exposure to toxic metals. Breastfeeding should be your sole baby’s nutrition for up to six months from birth.