"Dangerous levels of toxic metals like arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury exist in baby foods at levels that exceed what experts and governing bodies say are permissible," said Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, chair of the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, which conducted the investigation, signed by the Democratic members
Krishnamoorthi said the spreadsheets provided by manufacturers are "shocking" because they show evidence that some baby foods contain hundreds of parts per billion of dangerous metals. "Yet we know that in a lot of cases, we should not have anything more than single digit parts per billion of any of these metals in any of our foods," he told CNN.
Chemicals of concern for children
Arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury are in the World Health Organization's top 10 chemicals of concern
for infants and children.
As natural elements, they are in the soil in which crops are grown and thus can't be avoided. Some crop fields and regions, however, contain more toxic levels than others
, partly due to the overuse of metal-containing pesticides and ongoing industrial pollution.
"There was a time where we used metals as the predominant pesticide for many years, assuming it was safe," said Dr. Leonardo Trasande, chief of environmental pediatrics at NYU Langone.
All of these heavy metals have been linked to cancer, chronic disease and neurotoxic effects
, but it's the devastating damage that can be done to a developing baby's brain that makes baby food toxicity so critical.
The US Food and Drug Administration has not yet set minimum levels for heavy metals in most infant food. The agency did set a standard
of 100 parts per billion inorganic arsenic for infant rice cereal, but even that level is considered much too high for baby's safety, critics say
, especially since the FDA has already set a much lower standard of 10 parts per billion of ino